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.
I heard this story on NPR and had flashbacks to a similar debate we had decades ago with firefighters. And as with that debate, it frustrated me into a lather just as much now as it did then.
“Some people look at it as a civil rights issue,” says Dober. “I will tell you emphatically and to my grave that it’s not a civil rights issue. It’s a national security issue.”
Actually, it’s both.
In WW II, the Air Force was calculating the best way to take Saipan, a key island to set up the final bombing of Japan. They brought in a team of experts to find the plan that would minimize casualties while still maintaining a high probability of success. Objectively, the best plan was to have 25% of the planes carry a full load of bombs and have 75% of the planes stay home. Because of the weight of the bombs, the pilots wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it back. But even assuming all of them died, the 25% casualty rate was less than if they had 100% of the planes go with partial bomb loads and enough fuel to get home. This would likely result in a 30% or higher casualty rate. So the suicide mission was not as callous a strategy as it seems at first. And to make it fair, the pilots would be selected by lottery so they all had an equal chance of being selected.
This story has some fantastic implications for HF/E folks interested in aging or in military applications. There are also some intriguing socio-cultural issues, but I will leave those for another day.
Like the rough-and-ready has-beens in the Hollywood movie franchise, Kurds in their 50s and 60s — lawyers, taxi drivers, restaurant owners and retirees from as far away as Sweden and England – now carry guns alongside younger generations of Peshmerga, which means “Those who face death”.