Human versus Automation in Responding to Failures: An Expected-Value Analysis

By Sheridan, Thomas B.; Parasuraman, Raja | Human Factors, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Human versus Automation in Responding to Failures: An Expected-Value Analysis


Sheridan, Thomas B., Parasuraman, Raja, Human Factors


A simple analytical criterion is provided for deciding whether a human or automation is best for a failure detection task. The method is based on expected-value decision theory in much the same way as is signal detection. It requires specification of the probabilities of misses (false negatives) and false alarms (false positives) for both human and automation being considered, as well as factors independent of the choice -- namely, costs and benefits of incorrect and correct decisions as well as the prior probability of failure. The method can also serve as a basis for comparing different modes of automation. Some limiting cases of application are discussed, as are some decision criteria other than expected value. Actual or potential applications include the design and evaluation of any system in which either humans or automation are being considered.

INTRODUCTION

Whatever the task, however large or small, the problem of deciding when to have a human operator perform a task and when to automate has frustrated the engineering community for decades. One approach (that of the technology protagonist) is to automate whenever technically possible. Another (perhaps that of the humanist) is to automate when the task is boring, physically risky, or otherwise unpleasant and undesirable for a human but to retain for the human

such work as is satisfying. A third (an economist's perspective) is to automate when automation is cheaper than human labor, by whatever economic measure one chooses. A fourth perspective is that no general criteria or rational method can be provided, that allocation of human or automation is and perhaps forever will be an art (Sheridan, 1998a). A fifth perspective asserts that the decision of whether or not to automate should depend on circumstances of the moment and should be altered dynamically on the basis of factors such as human operator workload and s ituation awareness (Hancock & Scallen, 1996; for more detailed discussions and comparisons of these various perspectives, see Billings, 1996; Hancock & Scallen, 1996; Parasuraman & Riley, 1997; Sheridan, 1992).

This brief paper rejects the first approach, except when demonstration of technological prowess has intrinsic value, as it might for some scientific or entertainment reasons. Although the second approach is compelling, boredom, risk, pleasure, and satisfaction can all, in principle, be put in either monetary or subjectively expected utility equivalents. We accept the premises of the fourth and fifth perspectives in spirit but claim that there exists some rationality and stability in the allocation of a task to human versus automation, provided the task is sufficiently simple and well defined. So we choose the third approach, that of economics.

How can an economic approach be applied to the question of whether or not to automate a task? Expected-value analysis provides a Standard method, but having a simple and well-defined task is key to applying the method. Evaluation of performance in most tasks involves considerations of benefits and costs that accrue as a function of whether the response is appropriate or inappropriate under many different circumstances, the occurrences of which lie outside the control of the operator - whether human or automation. For any given task there certainly are many different circumstances that arise, and for each there are many degrees of response appropriateness.

To make the problem tractable, we selected a failure-response task that can be simplified to only two circumstances, each of which is associated with true but uncontrollable states of the world - namely, failure and normal - and two responses, one appropriate to failure and one appropriate to normal. This results in a two-by-two set of circumstances. The fuse blows, the pipe breaks, the check bounces, or it does not. The response is appropriate, or it is not. For each of the four possibilities there are probabilities, benefits, and costs, and the response can be automated or not. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Human versus Automation in Responding to Failures: An Expected-Value Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.