Thursday, August 4, 2011

The human thing

Crosstalk--the Journal of Defense Software Engineering--has an interesting review of "the human thing" in their May/June 2011 issue.

They chronicle a number of well known characteristics, but this article brings it together in a convenient table:

• Human Performance:
  • -Varies nonlinearly with several factors
  • -Follows an inverted U-curve relative to stress
  • -Excessive cognitive complexity can lead to task shedding and poor performance
• Human Error:
  • -Lack of inspectability into system operation can induce human error
  • -Incompatibility between human processes and machine algorithms can lead to human error
  • -Sustained cognitive overload can lead to fatigue and human error
• Human Adaptivity:
  • -Adaptivity is a unique human capability that is neither absolute or perfect
  • -Humans do adapt under certain conditions but usually not quickly
  • -Human adaptation rate sets an upper bound on how fast systems can adapt
  • -Tradeoff between human adaptation rate and error likelihood
  • -Need to define what is acceptable error rate (context-dependent)
• Multitasking:
  • -Humans do not multitask well
  • -Stanford University’s research findings show that so-called high multi-taskers have difficulty filtering out irrelevant information, can’t compartmentalize to improve recall, and can’t separate contexts
• Decision Making Under Stress:
  • -Under stress humans tend to simplify environment by disregarding/under weighting complicating factors
  • -Reduced ability to process multiple cues or perform tradeoffs
• User Acceptance:
  • -Overly complex system design can lead to rejection of the system
  • -Humans do not have to really understand software/system operation to develop confidence and trust in system
• Risk Perception and Behavior:
  • -Humans accept greater risks when in teams
  • -Humans have a built in target level of acceptable risk
• Human-System Integration:
  • -Humans are creative but rarely exactly right; however, human errors usually tend to be relatively minor
  • -Software/system solutions tend to be precisely right, but when wrong they can be way off

 Bookmark this on Delicious  
Are you on LinkedIn?    Share this article with your network by clicking on the link.