Vince Mancuso and his colleagues from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base presented a paper on Cyber human supervisory control at User Experience Day last week at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society annual conference. This paper won the best paper award and received a $1,000 prize, sponsored by State Farm.
The paper investigated the performance of a human supervisor in cyber security applications and how this performance varies with an increasing number of autonomous cyber assets to monitor. They used the BotNET Operator Agent Ratio Determination (BOARD) system as the environment for the test and gave participants a series of missions to accomplish.
One of the fascinating aspects of this area of research is that is has serious implications for international espionage, high level computer hacking, and other critical issues of national importance. On the fun side, it also has kind of a James Bond ring to it.
The results have critical implications for cyber security defense. Unlike other domains of human supervisory control, participants in this study were not able to control more than two or three assets at any one time, even though they did make the attempt. So as the number of assets increased, the number of missions that a participant was able to complete decreased.
The authors concluded that participants spread their resources too thin across missions, to the detriment of their overall performance. The authors acknowledge that more training of participants could have helped them derive a more effective strategy, but of course this limitation needed to be identified first so we know what to train.
I will post a link to the full paper in the Proceedings when it becomes available on the HFES website.
Are you interested in the cyber security domain and/or human control of automation? If not, you may want to take a second look. Humans are going to be called on to supervise a wide variety of automated agents. Not just cybersecurity agents and military drones but also the proposed delivery drones from Amazon, self-driving car fleets, and many more. Within our lifetimes, there will be an explosion of applications.
How does this make you feel?
Image Credit: JISC