Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.
Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:38 am

I heard computers called "machines" on NPR yesterday, and as always, I was taken aback. The online dictionary gives this definition: any mechanical or electrical device that transmits or modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of human tasks. "Or electrical device"- doesn't fit in my emotional understanding of machines. Even the online etymological dictionary agrees with me that a machine involves moving parts. I can see how a printer might be a machine, but not the computer that feeds it, and even less the tablets and cells. Anyone else have this problem?

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Postby Slava » Sat Aug 27, 2011 6:46 pm

I can see your problem, but I do not share it. I accept the usage as a natural extension of the meaning. Originally, machines did physical work. Now computers do theoretical work. They are still and all a complex set of interactive parts designed to complete certain tasks.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

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