On Turing Completeness, or Why We Are So Many

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DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.5631922


My main thesis is that Turing completeness is what characterizes our human cognition, and this is the paper where this is directly addressed, so it is a good place to start reading.

Firstly, well in section 2 (§2), the paper explains Turing completeness, which requires explaining the Turing machine and some related concepts as hardware & software and program & data. Then, I address the main question: Why is so important to be Turing complete? Those of us interested enough and old enough to remember the time when the first programmable calculators arrived in the mid 1970's —the HP-65 was out of my reach but I still own a CASIO fx-201P— can easily understand why. Younger people, and those who were not interested in computing then, can take advantage of this paper, section 3 (§3). And in order to see more clearly how Turing completeness characterizes humanity, in section 4 (§4), it should be understood that every living being is intentional —of course its intention is to keep being alive— and then that to have intentions is not uniquely human. What is uniquely human is to be able to imagine any possible problem resolution before executing it. What is uniquely human is our complete problem solving capability, also known as Turing completeness.


Why are we so many? Or, in other words, Why is our species so successful? The ultimate cause of our success as species is that we, Homo sapiens, are the first and the only Turing complete species. Turing completeness is the capacity of some hardware to compute by software whatever hardware can compute.

To reach the answer, I propose to see evolution and computing from the problem solving point of view. Then, solving more problems is evolutionarily better, computing is for solving problems, and software is much cheaper than hardware, resulting that Turing completeness is evolutionarily disruptive. This conclusion, together with the fact that we are the only Turing complete species, is the reason that explains why we are so many.

Most of our unique cognitive characteristics as humans can be derived from being Turing complete, as for example our complete language and our problem solving creativity.

Last paragraph

Only we the members of the species Homo sapiens can solve problems universally, cheaply, and quickly, and we can do it individually and collectively:


Link to the page of my paper on Turing completeness in figshare, and direct link to the pdf file.

An older version is in SSRN.

Última actualización: 2019-08-10.

© Ramón Casares 2019