WP2: Adaptation and Diversity in Socio-Technical Systems

This workpackage aims to give designers of socio-technical systems quantitative insight into two phenomena:

1. Socio-technical systems achieve robustness through some degree of redundancy between people and machines. So, diversity between their potential failures is a key factor. This implies, for instance, that attempts to make the whole system more dependable by improving individual components (e.g., re-designing some software, or retraining people) in isolation may end up being ineffective or even counterproductive if they undermine diversity.

2. People adjust their behaviour to the perceived context of their tasks, and this may affect the necessary diversity of failures. A common example is that of over-reliance on automation: a very reliable computer aid may dull the users' ability to respond when the aid itself behaves erroneously. But the consequences of people's self-adjustments may be very diverse, in response for instance to prolonged exposure to a system, to changes in automated components or new information about them, to changes in the load on the system, etc.

This workpackage builds on initial work in the DIRC project, and focuses on two sets of topics: how the effects of diversity change with the different structures of socio-technical systems; and how people's self-adaptation evolves over time after change events.

WP2 primarily involved researchers at City University and Edinburgh.