First of all, I would say that the concept of machine consciousness is not really new. What I think is new is the application of the latest scientific or philosophic models of consciousness in the Artificial Intelligence arena. Basically, machine consciousness central objective is to produce consciousness in an artificial system, and one of the greatest challenges here is to understand what actually a conscious process is. What we currently have is plenty of hypotheses which could be somehow applied to engineered artifacts. However, we don’t know to what extend these hypotheses correlate with the reality of human mind. This is the reason why we always keep a closer look to the latest advances in neuroscience. As the brain and cognitive sciences develop, more insight in the mind processes is gained.
There is no doubt that machine consciousness field has to be related to human consciousness studies (I’d better say scientific consciousness studies in general, as there are proofs of conscious behaviors in other mammals). Therefore, as part of the AI discipline, machine consciousness has to follow a multidisciplinary approach, where neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, physics, etc. All play a significant contribution role to the matter. Obviously, engineering play its central role here as well; at the end of the day, we are talking about machines.