The ironies of automation ... still going strong at 30?

Gordon Baxter*, John Rooksby, Yuanzhi Wang, Ali Khajeh-Hosseini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Motivation - Bainbridge highlighted some of the ironies of automation 30 years ago and identified possible solutions. Society is now highly dependent on complex technological systems, so we assess our performance in addressing the ironies in these systems.

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, welltrained, 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 publicationECCE '12
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 30th European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics
EditorsPhil Turner, Susan Turner
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9781450317863
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2012
Event30th European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics, ECCE 2012 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Aug 201231 Aug 2012


Conference30th European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics, ECCE 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'The ironies of automation ... still going strong at 30?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this