Understanding Computers [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 22 (1):142-142 (1968)

This is an extremely simplified yet remarkably thorough introduction to how computers work. It is for the "computer widow" and the interested layman. I think it would well serve as a minimal grounding for the philosopher forced by his colleagues and others into discussions of artificial intelligence. The language is condescendingly simple with each new technical term introduced with appropriate fanfare and placed in italics. The exposition is accompanied by many diagrams and examples. The book covers the binary operation of the computer and the role of symbols: how they are interpreted, how they get in to the computer, how they get out, how they are stored, and the logical categories by which they are processed. It discusses the control process by which the sequential order of computer operations is determined and the role of the programmer. The latter chapters of the book discuss a number of issues relating to the socio-economic implications of the widespread use of computers. Crowley takes great pains to point out the limitations of computers both with respect to current applicability and to future developments. He defends the computer as a potentially humanizing force in spite of its dehumanizing aspects. The book contains a short critical bibliography.--S. O. H.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1968221149
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