In his paper “The End of the Thermodynamics of Computation: A No-Go Result,” Norton correctly states that “In a [nearly] thermodynamically reversible process, all component systems are in [nearly] perfect equilibrium with one another at all stages,” and then discusses systems in which “Fluctuations will carry the system spontaneously from one stage to another [and as] a result, the system is probabilistically distributed over the different stages.”
But the stages of computation themselves need not be in equilibrium with one another, and hence subject to back-and-forth fluctuations. Instead, a time-varying potential can carry a system deterministically through a series of stages while the system remains at nearly perfect thermodynamic equilibrium at each stage. In other words, the state of the system need not be probabilistically distributed over the different stages.
This is an example of a scientist describing an unworkable solution to a problem and then asserting that no solution will work, when workable solutions are already known. Richard Smalley did a similar but more damaging disservice to atomically precise fabrication by inventing and rejecting an unworkable concept involving exotic atom-plucking “fingers,” while ignoring a decades-old literature that described the now-mundane concept of guiding the motion of reactive molecules.
TL;DR: The standard view of the thermodynamics of computation is correct.