Taming HAL: Designing Interfaces Beyond 2001

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Overview

Machines dominate our lives, from alarm clocks that wake us up in the morning to radios that lull us to sleep. Most of our interactions with automated machines and computers are problem-free, but more often than we would like, they can be irritating and confusing. This is frequently harmless, such as a VCR recording the wrong show, but when it involves a critical system like an autopilot or medical device it can be a matter of life or death. Taming HAL seeks to explain these miscommunications between humans and machines by exploring user interfaces of everyday devices. Degani examines thirty different systems for human use, including watches, consumer electronic products, Internet applications, cars, medical equipment, navigation systems onboard cruise ships, and autopilots of commercial aircraft. Readers will discover why interfaces between people and machines all too often do not work and what needs to be done to avoid potential tragedies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An entertaining and thought-provoking text on problems with many existing machine interfaces, from simple lamps to complex aircraft displays. Using the dangerous malfunction of the computer HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey as a stepping-off point, Degani clearly delineates the differences between machine and human models of tasks and processes, points out where communication disconnects can occur, and describes design solutions to prevent such errors...of interest to educated lay readers as well as engineers and aviators."—Library Journal

"Asaf Degani is one of the leading experts on the impact of computer automation on human beings. In Taming Hal, he has written a book that is full of clear and cogent examples that show why automation can frequently bewilder, frustrate, and sometimes even harm us—from the frustrations caused by VCRs to the tragic shooting down of 269 people on Korean Airlines 007. Even more importantly, he provides solutions by showing how automation could be designed to serve our human needs and capabilities, thereby improving the quality of all of our lives."—Kim J. Vicente, Professor of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, and author of The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way People Live With Technology

"Automation is no longer an esoteric buzzword for the scientific community, but is now a common attribute of most everyday products and environments. This book provides a riveting account of how automation influences our daily lives and demonstrates why some automated systems produce undesirable human experiences, from minor inconveniences to human tragedy. Degani has produced the most comprehensive automation resource to date, and has masterfully afforded casual readers, students, and professional automation researchers and designers alike with a new found ability to understand, model and solve automation design problems."—Dr. Anthony D. Andre, Founding Principal of Interface Analysis Associates and Adjunct Professor of Human Factors/Ergonomics, San Jose State University

"Degani makes a number of critical points about human-system interface design, and does it with a light, easy-to-read manner with compelling examples."— Thomas B. Sheridan, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

"Degani has a wonderful knack for making complex topics simple. This book is a wonderful start for all those who wish to understand the complexities of everyday technology. Along the way, we finally understand how a Korean airliner could have strayed so much that the Soviets shot it down, thinking it a spy plane, how an over-intelligent navigation system led a cruise ship to run aground, and even why the alarm clock so carefully set the night before fails in the morning."— Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group, Author of Emotional Design and The Design of Everyday Things

Library Journal
Degani, a systems engineer and research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, has penned an entertaining and thought-provoking text on problems with many existing machine interfaces, from simple lamps to complex aircraft displays, and solutions for better, safer designs. Degani is well-qualified on this topic, as he wrote several human factors-oriented texts on aviation flight-deck issues, and his doctoral dissertation was on modeling human-machine systems. Using the dangerous malfunction of the computer HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey as a stepping-off point, Degani clearly delineates the differences between machine and human models of tasks and processes, points out where communication disconnects can occur, and describes design solutions to prevent such errors. Excellent diagrams and "behavior maps" illustrate his points very well, though some are separated by more pages than desirable from the descriptive text. The computeresque font, chapter-head epigrams, and sometimes-dramatic language enliven the text. This book should be of interest to educated lay readers as well as engineers and aviators.-Sara Tompson, Packer Engineering Lib., Naperville, IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312295745
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 1/17/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Asaf Degani is a research scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech and is on advisory boards of several start-up companies. Degani lives in Palo Alto, C.A.

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Table of Contents

Part A: Humans and Machines: The Meeting of the Opposites

• Introduction

• Machines and Their Behavior: the Internals of the Ceiling Fan

• Users and Their Perspectives: Driving with The Automated Climate Control System

• User Interaction Made Complicated: One Push-Button, Two Different Outcomes

• The Crash Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 over the Sea of Japan

Part B: Human Interaction with Modern Devices: Tales of Two Perspectives

• Why Doesn't It Vent the Room? The Story of the "Simple" Air-Conditioner

• Light Switches and Phones

• Videos and Digital Clocks

• The Grounding of the Cruise ship Royal Majesty near Nantucket Island on June 10th, 1995

• Surfing the Internet and Getting Wiped-Out

• When Radiation-Therapy Kills: the Therac-25 System

• The Confusing Cruise-Control and the Faulty Blood-Pressure Machine

• The Crash of Airbus A-330 Aircraft near Toulouse, France

Part C: Interactions Made Better

• A New Look at Human-Automation Interaction

• Identifying Design Errors before They Manifest

• Designing Better Systems for Human Use: Make'm Simple, Succinct, and Safe

• The End

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