Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
The Quest for Edge Awareness, Lessons not yet learned: PhD Thesis on practical and situated usefulness of advanced technological systems among inescapable uncertainties and competing interests in a world of dynamic changes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis problematizes the concept of usefulness, in part by taking questions to the extreme. The starting point is the contemporary view of usefulness, a view that remains within a traditional paradigm of technical rationality in which important aspects are disregarded or not perceived because they are not part of the equation. For scrutiny of technological usefulness that is a socially situated phenomenon regarding physical systems, neither interpretivist nor positivist research approaches are sufficient. Both views are required. Critical Realism supports such duality, facilitating the combination of elements from different paradigms, and provides methodological guidelines for doing this. The critical realist approach makes it possible to transcend the boundaries of technical rationality and contribute an alternative definition of usefulness that takes into account also the situated, the contextual, and the unpredictable. The aim is that this definition will contribute to a transformation of society.

Concepts related to usefulness, such as predictability, controllability, effectiveness, and safety, are revisited, redefined, or complemented. Underlying aspects and mechanisms are explored and tensions identified, resulting in a theoretical contribution with models and frameworks explaining what is argued to be the true nature of usefulness. Potentiality is suggested as a complementary concept to effectiveness, similar to how resilience complements safety. Situated usefulness is then defined using these four concepts. The phenomenon known as situation awareness is scrutinized as well, and complemented by system awareness and the thesis title concept, edge awareness.

Four cases, two airline crashes and two nuclear power plant events, and three future scenarios, constitute the empirical contribution. The analysis shows that the contributed frameworks and redefinition of usefulness facilitate different or extended explanations of all four events, and that future cases lack considerations of situated usefulness. Research implications center on the human role and our responsibilities in relation to the technology that we use, and on the meaning of concepts defining this role. We are situated human beings. Our role is to be involved and responsible, a role requiring awareness and controllability. The escalating ubiquity and the character of computerized technological systems make therefore the quest for edge awareness more important than ever.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institutionen för informatik och media , 2014. , 297 p.
Keyword [en]
critical realism, human factors, situation awareness, resilience engineering, human-machine interaction, automation, autonomy, situated usefulness, systems thinking, sociotechnical systems, edge awareness
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Research subject
Human-Computer Interaction
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-234369ISBN: 978-91-506-2425-0OAI: diva2:756503
Public defence
2014-12-08, Sal IX, Universitetshuset, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-11-14 Created: 2014-10-17 Last updated: 2014-11-24

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(5956 kB)372 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 5956 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Stensson, Patrik
By organisation
Department of Informatics and Media
Human Aspects of ICT

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 372 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 654 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link