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Author Moursund, David
Source ACM Digital Library
Content type Text
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
File Format PDF
Language English
Subject Domain (in DDC) Computer science, information & general works ♦ Computer programming, programs & data
Abstract Computers are not easy to understand. Even a computer scientist who devotes full time to the field cannot hope to fully comprehend the capabilities, limitations, applications, and implications of these machines. Joseph Weizenbaum, in his recent book Computer Power and Human Reason (1), suggests that most people “understand” computers via what he calls a computer metaphor. Weizenbaum quotes I. A. Richards, who says a metaphor is “fundamentally a borrowing between and intercourse of thoughts, a transaction between contexts.” That is, a metaphor is an analogy, a simile, a model; it is designed to relate the unknown to the known. There are many possible computer metaphors. Weizenbaum makes the point that many people have accepted one particular computer metaphor, and that it is a particularly misleading one. Computer scientists think of a computer as a machine that can carry out an effective procedure. The words procedure and effective procedure have meaning to non-computer scientists. They can see that humans carry out procedures, or that many activities of humans can be thought of as execution of effective procedures. The effective procedure computer metaphor thus leads to the belief that humans and computers are quite similar in their capabilities and in the way they solve problems.
Description Affiliation: Dept. of Computer Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (Moursund, David)
Age Range 18 to 22 years ♦ above 22 year
Educational Use Research
Education Level UG and PG
Learning Resource Type Article
Publisher Date 1978-02-01
Publisher Place New York
Journal ACM SIGCSE Bulletin (SGCS)
Volume Number 9
Issue Number 1
Page Count 4
Starting Page 100
Ending Page 103

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Source: ACM Digital Library