Many novel forms of computational material have been suggested, from using slime moulds to solve graph searching problems, to using packaging foam to solve differential equations. I argue that attempting to force such novel approaches into the conventional Universal Turing computational framework will provide neither insights into theoretical questions of computation, nor more powerful computational machines. Instead, we should be investigating matter from the perspective of its natural computational capabilities. I also argue that we should investigate non-biological substrates, since these are less complex in that they have not been tuned by evolution to have their particular properties. Only then we will understand both aspects of computation (logical and physical) required to understand the computation occurring in biological systems.
@article(SS-PhysicaD-08, author = "Susan Stepney", title = "The Neglected Pillar of Material Computation", journal = "Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena", volume = 237, number = 9, pages = "1157--1164", month = "July", year = 2008 )