Computers Are Universal Objects

Computers can be programmed to do anything a model of computation can express. You don’t need to buy a new computer to run Microsoft Word and buy another computer to run Slack. The jump to universality in computers opened up an infinite set of possibilities via software.

See also:

  • Programming languages are also “universal objects” capable of representing any program if they are Turing complete. Even though they are just abstractions over a physical process that happens on a computer chip, abstractions are real.
  • Turner’s Frontier Thesis

    A country with a frontier is shaped by it. It favors people with rugged individualism because common services are not readily available without an existing economy in place. Positive-sum interactions in settled areas are required because people always have the option to leave. Finally, people seeking high variance opportunities will follow the frontier in search of outsized gains.

  • The Turing-Test Is an Empiricist Mistake

    The Turing-test is rooted in the idea that a human can judge whether something is an Artificial Intelligence merely by the behaviors it exhibits during the test. In reality, a judgment of whether or not it’s a genuine AI requires an explanation of how it works.

  • Universality Leads to NP-Complete Problems

    There is a surprising link between universality and NP-complete problems in computer science.

  • LLM Applications Need Creativity

    Making the most of practical applications of large language models requires creativity. It’s a blank canvas to be filled in the same way that early mobile application developers faced when a new set of APIs unlocked new possibilities.