Understanding Computers and Cognition presents an important and controversial new approach to understanding what computers do and how their functioning is related to human language, thought, and action. While it is a book about computers, Understanding Computers and Cognition goes beyond the specific issues of what computers can or can't do. It is a broad-ranging discussion exploring the background of understanding in which the discourse about computers and technology takes place. Understanding Computers and Cognition is written for a wide audience, not just those professionals involved in computer design or artificial intelligence. It represents an important contribution to the ongoing discussion about what it means to be a machine, and what it means to be human.
Most approaches to AI share assumptions about the nature of representation, symbol manipulation, and intelligence. The approaches are all limited by basic problems of representation, assuming (falsely?) a linguistic nature of thought. Winograd describes an alternative "hermeneutic" orientation and relates it to current problems in AI research.