Accidents in HCI Systems.


Human Computer Interface (HCI) deals with understanding the cognitive behavior of people when it comes to usage of technology and critically evaluating the usage methods during the interaction with technologies and their experience, to address the dynamic co-evolution of the activities people engage in. But it also deals with evolution in interactions which vary with the ways people intermingle along with the modernization in technologies. Moreover the expectations, concepts and skills develop with such advancement because they articulate new needs, new interests, and new visions for interactive technology.

Contemporary human practices and aspirations are part of HCI initiative to trace how those activities are embodied and elaborated, but perhaps every domain restricts itself due to its own limitations referring to current infrastructures and tools. And so does HCI as it understands the practices and activity specifically as a part of its requirements which plays a key role when needs to pass information between man and machine effectively. Envisioning new technology, new tools and environments the interface must be intuitive to finely represent a system to the world which it has been created for. The aim at of a design is to allow the natural interaction concentrating on the task at hand and not on the technicalities.

There were days when we had hundreds of discrete and mechanical instruments. What better example than the arena of a conventional aircraft and the safety or critical issues with those systems? The conventional system comprised of flight control surfaces, the respective cockpit controls and the necessary operating mechanisms. Aircraft engine controls are also responsible for flight controls when need to change speed. But what matter the most is lives of people which depends on effectiveness of a computer system in interpreting control input from and to the pilot.

Traditionally aircrafts didn’t represent two-way interactive, safety-critical, real-time systems and consequently resulted in air crash. To date we have HCI systems which pass on a loop of information between pilot and itself and deficiency of such looping was the reason of failure of conventional systems. The computers then lacked an interpretation of the information which was communicated by pilot and on the other hand pilot processed and passed information through less interactive systems therefore affected upon the control mechanics of the aircraft. Nevertheless Aviation mishaps rooted from complexities caused though the combinations of human errors, failure in management, flaws in designs, environmental and meteorological factors.

Traditionally, OM systems consisted of NNPs, the instruments, the recorders and switches and to gain information operators had to arrange large number of instruments and switches on control panel.  When more advanced NNPs were established the digitized OM systems started to become functional in main control room as a central unit of advanced NPPs where video display terminals and large scale screens have been set to broadcast around.

But after the Three Mile Island accident and Chernobyl disaster it was evaluated that it happened due to human errors. The Three Mile Island accident was partially a nuclear meltdown and it began with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system whereas Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident. The inappropriate OM system design lead to operational inefficiency and risk to power plants operation safety. Since operators needed to access thousand pages of information but they still had a burden for unsupported searching of information, understanding every state of system, manual operations and decision making. Hence resulting in disaster!

There must be a critical realization of the Bhopal accident, a gas leak incident occurred in India, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster and it should not be considered an isolated event in fact it’s one of a kind and could only happen in developing countries. The causes of human error and commonalities of human factors are reported for this major disaster as well. By human error it refers to the way the parts of a system like engineered and human fit together and interacts. Also, on many occasions, the failures are attributed as complicated operational processes and ineffective training of error factor.

In most rapid flux presently design is the facet of HCI and no one can accuse HCI of resting on laurels. The evolution in the worlds of practice and activity have been observed in HCI and throughout the development of HCI there were deliberate embracement seen in paradigm-changing scientific revisions by a field or by any measure, succeeding intellectually or practically. The result has been an increasingly fragmented and it seems that more new design proto-disciplines will emerge from HCI during the next decade for complex field for them to continue to succeed even more.

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