The ironies of automation… still going strong at 30?

Gordon Baxter, John Richard Newton Rooksby, Derek Wang, Ali Khajeh-Hosseini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

36 Citations (Scopus)


Motivation – Bainbridge highlighted some of the ironies of automation 30 years ago and identified possible solutions. Technology plays an increasingly critical role in society, so we assess our performance in solving these ironies.

Research approach – A critical reflection on the original ironies of automation, followed by a review of three domains where technology plays a critical role
using case studies to identify where ironies persist.

Findings/Design – The reliability and speed of technology have improved, but the ironies are still there. New ironies have developed too, in cloud computing
where the cheaper cost of computing resources can lead to systems that are less dependable when developers bypass company procedures.

Research limitations/Implications – The work relies on published or reported cases. This makes it difficult to precisely determine how widespread the issues are.

Originality/Value – The research re-iterates the importance of the need to regularly consider the ironies of automation in systems development so that we can mitigate against any potential adverse consequences.

Take away message – The more we depend on technology and push it to its limits, the more we need highly-skilled, well-trained, well-practised people to
make systems resilient, acting as the last line of defence against the failures that will inevitably occur.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Egronomics
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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