Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 5th, 2021

What’s that concept of Human factors in Design?

Posted on September 20, 2008 (written from 2003-2006)

 What is this Human Factors profession?

 Summary of Articles numbers                                                                                              

1.  “What is your job?”                                                                                                  

2.  “Sorry, you said Human Factors in Engineering?”                                                

3.  “So, you want systems to fit people?”                                                                   

4.  “The rights of the beast of burden; like a donkey?”                                              

5.  “Who could afford to hire Human Factors engineers?”                             

6.  “In peace time, why and how often are Human Factors hired?                    

7.  “What message should the Human Factors profession transmit?”                          

8.  “What do you design again?”                                                                                         

9.  “Besides displays and controls, what other interfaces do you design?”                 

10.  “How Human Factors gets involved in the Safety and Health of end users?”    

11.  “What kind of methods will I have to manipulate and start worrying about?” 

12.  “What are the error taxonomies in Human Factors?”                                 

13.  “What are the task taxonomies and how basic are they in HF?”                           

14.  “How useful are taxonomies of methods?”                                                               

15.  “Are occupational safety and health standards and regulations of any concern for the HF professionals?”                                                                                                       

16.  “Are there any major cross over between HF and safety engineering?”            

17.  “Tell us about a few of your teaching methods and anecdotes”                            

18.  “What this general course in Human Factors covers?”                                         

19.  “Could one general course in Human Factors make a dent in a career behavior?”                                                                                                                     

20.  “How would you like to fit Human Factors in the engineering curriculum?”  

21.  “How to restructure engineering curriculum to respond to end users demands?”

22.  “How can a class assimilate a course material of 1000 pages?”                             

23.  “What undergraduate students care about university courses?”                            

24.  “Students’ feedback on my teaching method”                                              

25.  “My pet project for undergraduate engineering curriculum”                      

26.  “Guess what my job is”                                                                                              

27.  “Do you know what your folk’s jobs are?”                                                              

28.  “How do you perceive the inspection job to mean?”                                               

29.  “How objective and scientific is a research?” 

30.  “How objective and scientific are experiments?”                                                   

31.   “A seminar on a multidisciplinary view of design”                                                  

32.  “Consumer Product Liability Engineering”                                                                 

33.  “How could you tell long and good stories from HF graphs?”                               

34.  “What message has the Human Factors profession been sending?”       

35. “Who should be in charge of workspace design?”                                                  

36.  “Efficiency of the human body structure and mind”                                                

37.  “Psycho-physical method”                                                                                       

38.  “Human factors performance criteria”                                                      

39.  “Fundamentals of controlled experimentation methods”                                      

40.  “Experimentation: natural sciences versus people’s behavior sciences”            

41.  “What do Human Factors measure?”                                                                   

42.  “New semester, new approach to teaching the course”                                       

43.  “Controlled experimentation versus Evaluation and Testing methods”               

44.  “Phases in the process of system/mission analyses”                                             

45.   “Main errors and mistakes in controlled experimentations”                   

46.  “Human Factors versus Industrial, Computer, and traditional engineering” 

47.  “How Human Factors are considered at the NASA jet propulsion laboratory”

48.  “Efficiency of the human cognitive power or mind”                                               

49.  “Human Factors versus Artificial Intelligence”                                                     

50.  Computational Rationality in Artificial Intelligence                                               

51.  “Basic Engineering and Physics Problems Transformed Mathematically”     

52.  Mathematics: a unifying abstraction for Engineering and Physics                        

53. How to optimize human potentials in businesses for profit                                      

Cases of “Historical Dialectics” of human and knowledge development

Posted on December 23, 2009

Dialectics is not only used to comprehend historical development of human/knowledge development but is basic in discussions and effective dialogues.

Hegel was first to introduce “dynamic logic” and used the term of historical dialectics as the interaction of an extreme opinion (thesis) that generates an opposite extreme counter opinion (antithesis) which results in a consensus (synthesis). 

Historical dialectics is a macro method for long range study and it does not explain the individual existential conditions (survival situations). 

Hegel offered dialectics as a method for explaining how human knowledge developed by constant struggle between contradictory concepts among philosophical groups. The purpose of his method was to demonstrate how the “universe of the spirit” or ideas managed to be raised in human consciousness.

Before I offer my version of knowledge development it might be useful to give a few examples of historical dialectics.

In Antiquity, the pre-Socratic philosophers were divided between the Eleatics or philosophers who claimed that change of primeval substances was impossible: we cannot rely on our senses. 

Heraclites reacted with his position that we can rely on our senses and that everything in the universe is in a state of flow and that no substance remains in its place.  

The synthesis came from Empedocles who claimed that we can rely on our senses but that what flow are the combination of substances, though the elementary particles do not change. 

The Sophists during Socrates were the paid teachers of the elite classes and tore down the mythological teaching of the period and focused on improving individual level of learning.

They were in effect in demand by a nascent City-State democracy of Athens that relied on a better educated society to participate in the political system.

Socrates reacted by proposing that there are fundamental truths, and that knowledge is Not an exercise in rhetorical discourse. The same dialectics worked between the world of ideas of Plato and the empirical method counterpoint of Aristotle.

In the Medieval period the Catholic Church set up a barrier or distance between God and man and forced people to believe that all knowledge emanates from God.  

The Renaissance man (wanting to be knowledgeable in many disciplines) reacted by promoting the concepts that God is in every element, that man is a complete microcosm of the universe, and that knowledge starts by observing nature and man.

Another example is the position of Descartes who established that rationalism was the main source for knowledge. 

David Hume responded by extending that empirical facts are generated from our senses that are the basis for knowledge.

Kant offered the synthesis that the senses are the primary sources for our impressions but it is our perceptual faculties that describe and view the world: there is a distinction between “matter” of knowledge or the “thing in itself” and “form” of knowledge or the “thing for me”. Kant became the point of departure for another chain of dialectical reflections.

Many philosophers used the dialectic methods to explaining other forms of development.  

Karl Marx wrote that Hegel used his method standing on its head instead of considering human material conditions. Marx claimed that “philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it”.

Thus, Marx defined three levels as basis of society: condition of production (mainly the geographic, natural resources, and climatic conditions), means of production (such as machineries and tools), and production relations (such as political institutions, division of labor, distribution of work and ownership).

Marx claimed that the main interactions are among the working class (the new slaving method of production) and the owners of the means of productions or the ruling class: it is this struggle that develop the spiritual progress

Another dialectical process is the extreme feminist political claims of equality between genders which brought about a consensus synthesis for a period.

My view of progress is based on the analogy of combination of two schemas:

The first schema is the coexistence of two strings of evolution (picture a DNA shape): the knowledge development (mainly technological) and the moral string (dominated mainly by religious ideologies).  

The second schema is represented by historical dialectic evolutions in the shape of helical cones. The time lengths of cycles for the two strings are not constant: the technological progress phase has shorter and shorter cycles while the moral string has longer cycles.

The two strings are intertwined and clashes frequently. 

When one string overshadow the other string in evolution then there are a slow counter-reaction culminating in stagnate status-quo phases between the two forces.

Technological or level of sustenance period has time length cycles that is shrinking at the top of the cone before the cone is inverted on its head so that the moral time length cycles start to increase and appears almost invariant (that what happened in the long Medieval period that stretched for over 11 centuries in Europe). Then the cone is reverted on its base for the next “rebirth” cycles (for example the Renaissance period that accelerated the knowledge string ascent).

Note 1: Currently, the technological progress is overwhelming and the mythological string is countering this vigorous cycle: Racism, apartheid, far-right exclusion organization and massive sanctions on entire people based on geopolitical antagonism…

The worst of time started when nature was considered a means to increase capitalism “profit” through massive exploitation of people and nature. Looks like the viability of Earth is on a trend of doom for most living species.

And technology is proven to be very limited in countering the weak moral trend of ignoring the foundation for our existence

Note 2: The Islamic empire that lasted 9 centuries also struggled between religious ideologies and rational thinking. This empire witnessed two short renaissance of the mind and generated countless scientific breakthrough that Medieval Europe tried hard to oppose and to translate.


adonis49

adonis49

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