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