On Human Factors
Peter A. Hancock University of Minnesota
Mark H. Chignell University of Toronto
The Secret of Machines
We can pull and haul and push and lift and drive,
We can print and plough and weave and heat and light,
We can run and race and swim and fly and drive,
We can see and hear and count and read and write . . .
But remember please, the Law by which we live,
We are not built to comprehend a lie.
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive -
If you make a slip in handling us, you die.
This chapter develops a descriptive theoretical structure for human factors. The structure is based on a view of technology as the principal method through which humans expand their bounds of perception and action but also as the medium through which control is arbitrated in systems of increasing complexity and abstraction which explore the new 'territory' revealed. The theory presents a broad rationale for the contemporary impetus in human factors and historical motivations for its growth. It is suggested that human factors is unlike other traditional divisions of knowledge and is more than the mere haphazard