February 18, 2020 | Mark Paradies

Automation and Human Error

Automation, Cognitive Function Allocation, and Human Error

In 1985, I completed my master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering with an emphasis on Human Factors. The title of my master’s thesis was A Cognitive Allocation to Improve Nuclear Power Plant Performance.

I was preparing for a talk at the 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit titled Automation and Attention, and I found myself going back to my research from 35 years ago to review some of the findings because it still applied today (maybe even better than it applied 35 years ago).

Automation and Error

Interestingly, automation can help an operator succeed or cause an operator to fail more frequently. Sometimes automation can lead to a serious accident (for example the two 737 Max crashed that still have the 737 Max grounded after the MCAS system took control of the plane).

The inability of the pilots to understand what the automation was doing and how they could stop/disconnect the automation (MCAS) led to the death of hundreds.

Importance of Design of Automated Systems

Jens Rasmussen’s Automation Variables Model

Recently we wrote about the importance of the goodness of automation design (Is Automation the Solution to Human Error?). We will discuss this in more detail at the upcoming 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit in the session Automation and Attention on Wednesday, March 11 (part of the Improving Human Performance Track).

Jens Rasmussen

Jens Rasmussen

Jens’ insights are more important today than they were in the 1980s because automation plays a more critical role in system safety with each new design.

Learn More About Human Error and Improving Human Performance

Stopping Human Error

There are just a couple of weeks until the new Stopping Human Error Course premiers before the 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit.

The Stopping Human Error Course is on March 9-10 at the Horseshoe Bay Resort near Austin, Texas.

The 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit is on March 11-13 at the same location. It includes the Improving Human Performance Track and the session Automation and Attention.

When you register for both the Stopping Human Error Course and the 2020 Global TapRooT® Summit, you save $200 off the separate course and Summit registration fees.

DON’T DELAY … There are only a few seats left in the Stopping Human Error Course. Our next course isn’t scheduled until September.

Use the button below to register for both the course and the Summit.


Accident, Human Performance, Summit
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