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Human error is a widely recognized problem, and there are at least two complementary paths to error mitigation. One approach aims to reduce error by changing the design of systems and products to make them fit human capabilities and limitations. Another approach aims to remove human error (and human involvement) altogether by automation, sometimes including intelligent systems. The latter approach might seem preferable. After all, if no human is involved, how can there be any human error? Both paths have merit. However, the automatization path might be so tempting that researchers might not realize the new, counterintuitive problems this approach can create. Recent attempts to eliminate human error in programming a VCR provide a poignant example of this concern.
Date of Publication: Nov-Dec 2001