On Convergent Technological Evolution


Hancock, P.A. (1996). On convergent technological evolution. Ergonomics in Design, 4(1), 22-29.

The characteristic of evolution that I advance and illustrate is the convergence of form in systems experiencing common evolutionary forces (see Gould, 1980, for a discussion of comparable convergence patterns in natural evolution).  The technical, human factors, realm in which I wish to present convergence is that of the human-machine (computer) interface.  I suggest that convergent evolution, in adopting preferential characteristics, is occurring at the human-machine interface.  I propose that this happens not only for the physical structure of the workstation but for the way in which resident information is displayed.  I provide on metaphor that might prove useful for common representation across may divergent systems.  So, given that complex human-machine systems evolve, and to a large extent, evolve in ways similar to natural ecosystems, and given that the design of complex human-machine systems need to be informed by this parallel in order to avoid catastrophic failurs that regale the history of natural ecosystems, therefore, can we demonstrate that species (i.e., specific cases of human-machine systems) converge to a common form given their subjugation to common forces?

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