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In line with the UT’s motto of High Tech – Human Touch, I study how brittle technologies influence joint cognitive system performance. More powerful technological support will be introduced, facilitated by advances in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Big Data. However, every form of technological support has a capability envelope, that is, it is restricted in the conditions under which it can operate. We need to know how system design affects human performance when this capability envelope is exceeded and what guidance is available for the design of joint cognitive systems so that they can be resilient when these capability envelopes are exceeded.
My research focus is to study the characteristics, qualities and attributes of resilient teams and organizations and the integral role of technology therein. My ambitions are to achieve a better understanding of what structural communication dynamics make teams resilient in the long run to anomalous situations and deriving training and design recommendations from this understanding. These ambitions align very well with TNO’s goals on improving resilience in complex sociotechnical systems as well as developing guidelines for optimal human-machine teaming.
I have studied communication patterns in teams in various domains, such as aviation, mission control centers, medicine, and railway control centers. There are distinct communication patterns in both expected and unexpected (anomalous) situations. Teams adapt to unexpected situations first by maintaining institutional roles and displaying closed-loop communication for as long as possible. If situations become more anomalous and demands continue to increase, flattening communication structures and active information seeking behaviors are resilient patterns that are observed. In extreme cases, communication within a team may break down, as was observed in the Air France Flight 447 disaster: the pilots increasingly relied on immediately preceding communication patterns during the emergency, rather than on pre-meditated, conscious decisions for distribution of communication.
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