Anticipating the effects of technological change: a new era of dynamics for human factors
Human factors studies the intersection between people, technology and work, with the major aim to find areas where design and working conditions produce human error. It relies on the knowledge base and research results of multiple fields of inquiry (ranging from computer science to anthropology) to do so. Technological change at this intersection (1) redefines the relationship between various players (both humans and machines), (2) transforms practice and shifts sources of error and excellence, and (3) often drives up operational requirements and pressures on operators. Human factors needs to predict these reverberations of technological change before a mature system has been built in order to steer design into the direction of cooperative human-machine architectures. The quickening tempo of technology change and the expansion of technological possibilities has largely converted the traditional shortcuts for access to a design process (task analysis, guidelines, verification and validation studies, etc.) into oversimplification fallacies that retard understanding, innovation, and, ultimately, human factors' credibility. There is an enormous need for the development of techniques that gain empirical access to the future-that generate human performance data about systems which have yet to be built.
Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science