Capturing semi-automated decision making : the methodology of CASADEMA

Abstract: This thesis presents a new methodology named CASADEMA (CApturing Semi-Automated DEcision MAking) which captures the interaction between humans and the technology they use to support their decision-making within the domain of Information Fusion. We are particularly interested in characterising the interaction between human decision makers and artefacts in semi-automated fusion processes. In our investigation we found that the existing approaches are limited in their ability to capture such interactions in sufficient detail. The presented method is built upon a distributed-cognition perspective. The use of this particular theoretical framework from cognitive science enables the method to take into account not only the role of the data captured in the physical and digital artefacts of the fusion system (e.g., radar readings, information from a fax or database, a piece of paper, etc.), but also the cognitive support function of the artefacts themselves (e.g., as an external memory) as part of the fusion process. That is, the interdependencies between the fusion process and decision-making can be captured. This thesis thus contributes to two main fields. Firstly, it enables, through CASADEMA, a distributed-cognition perspective of fusion processes in the, otherwise, rather technology-oriented field of Information Fusion. This has important conceptual implications, since it views fusion processes as extending beyond the boundary of physical/computer systems, to include humans, technology, and tools, as well as the interactions between them. It is argued that a better understanding of these interactions can lead to a better design of fusion processes, making CASADEMA an important contribution to the information fusion field. Secondly, the thesis provides, again in the form of CASADEMA, a practical application of the distributed-cognition theoretical framework. Importantly, the notations and definitions introduced in CASADEMA structure the otherwise currently rather loosely defined concepts and approaches in distributed cognition research. Hence, the work presented here also contributes to the fields of cognitive science and human-computer interaction.