Can The Allocation of Function Between Humans and Machines Ever be Done on a Rational Basis?


Sheridan, T., Hancock, P.A., Pew, R., Van Cott, H., & Woods, D. (1998). Can the allocation of function between humans and machines ever be done on a rational basis? Ergonomics in Design, 6(3), 20-25.

This is a summary of a debate that took place at the 1997 HFES Annual Meeting. The proposition was “Resolved: allocating functions between humans and machines can never be done on a rational basis.” The debaters were Harold P. Van Cott and Richard W. Pew for the proposition, and David D. Woods and Peter A. Hancock against the proposition. I was organizer and chair.  Harold “Smoke” Price was cochair and made invited comments at the end, as did Alphonse Chapains, who was a coauthor of the original Fitts list report.
Shortly after the 1977 Annual Meeting, a three0-day symposium on the theme “Revising the Allocation of Functions,” sponsered by the IEA, was held in Galway, Ireland. I attended and gave a plenary paper there. The second part of this article briefly comments on that meeting and mentions a few points from my paper.

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