The results of our research indicate that automation and other technologies that are implemented to cope with the anticipated doubling of air traffic over the next decade must be designed to support rather than supplant these skills. One visitor, NASA Chief Scientist Kathie Olsen (see photo), praised our work and
our exhibit’s emphasis on the important role of human factors science in aviation. Several others commented that they were surprised and pleased to see that human factors was more than “knobs and dials” and was being applied to important societal problems.
As human factors scientists and practitioners, we should support these goals because our field is an important component of the behavioral and social
sciences. Will the goals be met? Broad political support will be essential. At the launch event, a letter from former President Clinton recognizing the importance of the behavioral and social sciences was read by Representative David Price (D-North Carolina).
Clinton stated in part that “the consequences of untreated behavioral problems are staggering in both human and economic terms.…The behavioral and social sciences offer us invaluable resources in identifying and eliminating the causes of many of these seemingly intractable problems.” One can only hope that his successor in the White House agrees.