Blindsight by Peter Watts (2006)Read about another title on the list.
This Hugo-nominated novel is available online for free, so you can see for yourself why so many people recommend it as a blockbuster idea-driven book. Some 80 years in the future, alien devices arrive and take a snapshot of the entire planet Earth — then self-destruct. The crew of the starship Theseus sets off to find the alien intelligence that sent the machines, with a vampire captain and a crew of weirdos. Along the way, the book asks lots of tricky questions about the nature of consciousness — as one character says, "we're not thinking machines, we're feeling machines that happen to think." Danielle Parker explains in her review:
Some of [Watts]' questions include What is the nature of consciousness? and, more important, What is its value? Is self-awareness a survival trait, or is it an evolutionary dead-end? If we meet intelligent aliens, will they think? Will they be something completely different from our own self-aware, gene and DNA-based model? Throughout the book the author tinkers with the whole concept of mind and self-awareness.
Also see-- My Book, The Movie: Peter Watts's Rifters trilogy.