Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Universal Hammer Equivalence

I've been reading a lot of things lately that claim that some various process, usually at the molecular level, is Turing-complete, meaning that it meets Turing's definition of a universal machine, capable of following any mechanical algorithm.

And it occurred to me that it's like taking one of those Dremels and calling it hammer-complete because you can bang on nails with it.

Why are we treating the Turing Machine like it's the ceiling, rather than the floor? There are provably models more powerful than the Turing Machine, and I fear that we're ignoring possible implementations as we experiment. If all you have is a hammer, everything does start looking like a nail.