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Minimizing human-machine interface failures in high risk systems

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1 Author(s)
Sudano, J.J. ; Martin Marietta Government Electron. Syst., Morristown, NJ, USA

Technology now permits the building of very complex man-machine systems with centralized controls, with the result that many processes can be run by relatively few individual workers. Studies of failures within these complex systems indicate that they are usually the consequence of a series of highly complex coincidences. There is an institutional neglect or misunderstanding of the implications of low-probability, high-consequence events for the design of complex man-machine systems. We must stop designing systems in which we virtually guarantee that operator errors will occur with catastrophic consequences. The greatest payback in reducing high risk system accidents is to reduce catastrophes induced or exacerbated by human error. This paper discusses some task breakdowns between the human element and software/hardware. These task allocations allow the complex man-machine system to be designed more robustly and prevent human error so as to reduce possible catastrophic consequences.<>

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 10 )

Date of Publication:

Oct. 1994

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