Aye you normally start from basics and as you learn stuff. From what I gather as you learn, each time you use or remember something, the brain reinforces the neural pathway relating to that act. This is why walking becomes extraordinarily easy as it is something you do over and over again. And it's also why you stop remembering stuff, if you don't reinforce the neural pathways relating to something, eventually the existing ones die off and you lose that bit of memory.
Now apply that to a computer, it doesn't need to reinforce connections to prevent memory loss (well, apart from hardware failures) so this element should be very easy. But what the brain also does is it associates actions and reactions to stimuli which come from either internal or external feedback. A computer is unlikely to ever receive many of these, so much of what we classify as the base emotions (happiness, pain, hunger) would not apply. Something with a body in which these can be experienced would however need to have these things in order to function, well maybe not happiness but certainly reaction to pain / threat stimuli.
However, back to a previous post about self-awareness, my thoughts are that this is one of a few things that define us as humans. The ability to choose freely, to create as opposed to simply recreate, the concepts of abstract and lateral thinking, these are also things that make us what we are. Any artificial life would presumably need these as well in order to be considered 'alive'?
All right, brain. You don't like me and I don't like you, but let's just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.