AAI V3 FRONTPAGE

eJournal: uffmm.org,
ISSN 2567-6458, 12.May 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

Change: May 20, 2019 (Stopping Circulating Acronyms :-))

Change: May 21,  2019 (Adding the Slavery-Empowerment topic)

Change: May 26, 2019 (Improving the general introduction of this first page)

 

OBJECTIVE

This text describes the general procedure how engineers turn a problem into a functioning solution. Usually known under the label of Systems Engineering (SE) the focus in this text is on the first phase of this process where some experts try to analyse a given problem with a first vision of a possible solution to enable a complete solution. This analysis centers around the interaction between different kinds of executive actors (eA) which have to do the job and different kinds of assistive actors (aA) which shall support the executive actors. Historically these interactions have been analyzed under headings like Humanc-Computer Interaction (HCI) or Human-Machine Interaction (HMI). It is due to the developments during the beginning of the 21st century that the author of this text recently has introduced the wording Actor-Actor Interaction (AAI) to cope with the explosion of different kinds of actors on the side of the executive as well as assistive actors. As a consequence the nature of the interactions changed as well.These changes induced a  general re-writing of the traditional HCI/ HMI subject which is not yet finished.

HISTORY OF THIS TEXT

After a previous post of the new AAI approach I started the first  re-formulation of the general framework of  the AAI theory, which later has been replaced by a more advanced AAI version V2. But even this version became a change candidate and mutated to the   Actor-Cognition Interaction (ACI) paradigm, which still was not the endpoint. Then new arguments grew up to talk rather from the Augmented Collective Intelligence (ACI). Because even this view on the subject can  change again I stopped following the different aspects of the general Actor-Actor Interaction paradigm and decided to keep the general AAI paradigm as the main attractor capable of several more specialized readings.

Change: June 18, 2019 (Returning to the PDF-approach: one coherent pdf-document, which will be updated as a whole… the network of posts is too confusing)

ACTOR ACTOR INTERACTION [AAI]. Version: June 17, 2019 – V.7: aaicourse-17june2019-incomplete

Change: June 19, 2019 (Update  to version 8; chapter 5 has been rewritten completely).

ACTOR ACTOR INTERACTION [AAI]. Version: June 19, 2019 – V.8: aaicourse-june 19-2019-v8-incomplete

Change: June 19, 2019 (Update to version 8.1; minor corrections in chapter 5)

ACTOR ACTOR INTERACTION [AAI]. Version: June 19, 2019 – V.8.1: aaicourse-june19-2019-v8.1-incomplete

Change: June 23, 2019 (Update to version 9; adding chapter 6 (Dynamic AS) and chapter 7 (Example of dynamic AS with two actors)

ACTOR ACTOR INTERACTION [AAI]. Version: June 23, 2019 – V.9: aaicourse-June-23-2019-V9-incomplete

Change: June 25, 2019 (Update to version 9.1; minor corrections in chapters 1+2)

ACTOR ACTOR INTERACTION [AAI]. Version: June 25, 2019 – V.9.1aaicourse-June25-2019-V9-1-incomplete

ACI – TWO DIFFERENT READINGS

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 11.-12.May 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de
Change: May-17, 2019 (Some Corrections, ACI associations)
Change: May-20, 2019 (Reframing ACI with AAI)
CONTEXT

This text is part of the larger text dealing with the Actor-Actor Interaction (AAI)  paradigm.

HCI – HMI – AAI ==> ACI ?

Who has followed the discussion in this blog remembers several different phases in the conceptual frameworks used here.

The first paradigm called Human-Computer Interface (HCI) has been only mentioned by historical reasons.  The next phase Human-Machine Interaction (HMI) was the main paradigm in the beginning of my lecturing in 2005. Later, somewhere 2011/2012, I switched to the paradigm Actor-Actor Interaction (AAI) because I tried to generalize over  the different participating machines, robots, smart interfaces, humans as well as animals. This worked quite nice and some time I thought that this is now the final formula. But reality is often different compared to  our thinking. Many occasions showed up where the generalization beyond the human actor seemed to hide the real processes which are going on, especially I got the impression that very important factors rooted in the special human actor became invisible although they are playing decisive role in many  processes. Another punch against the AAI view came from application scenarios during the last year when I started to deal with whole cities as actors. At the end  I got the feeling that the more specialized expressions like   Actor-Cognition Interaction (ACI) or  Augmented Collective Intelligence (ACI) can indeed help  to stress certain  special properties  better than the more abstract AAI acronym, but using structures like ACI  within general theories and within complex computing environments it became clear that the more abstract acronym AAI is in the end more versatile and simplifies the general structures. ACI became a special sub-case

HISTORY

To understand this oscillation between AAI and  ACI one has to look back into the history of Human Computer/ Machine Interaction, but not only until the end of the World War II, but into the more extended evolutionary history of mankind on this planet.

It is a widespread opinion under the researchers that the development of tools to help mastering material processes was one of the outstanding events which changed the path of  the evolution a lot.  A next step was the development of tools to support human cognition like scripture, numbers, mathematics, books, libraries etc. In this last case of cognitive tools the material of the cognitive  tools was not the primary subject the processes but the cognitive contents, structures, even processes encoded by the material structures of the tools.

Only slowly mankind understood how the cognitive abilities and capabilities are rooted in the body, in the brain, and that the brain represents a rather complex biological machinery which enables a huge amount of cognitive functions, often interacting with each other;  these cognitive functions show in the light of observable behavior clear limits with regard to the amount of features which can be processed in some time interval, with regard to precision, with regard to working interconnections, and more. And therefore it has been understood that the different kinds of cognitive tools are very important to support human thinking and to enforce it in some ways.

Only in the 20th century mankind was able to built a cognitive tool called computer which could show   capabilities which resembled some human cognitive capabilities and which even surpassed human capabilities in some limited areas. Since then these machines have developed a lot (not by themselves but by the thinking and the engineering of humans!) and meanwhile the number and variety of capabilities where the computer seems to resemble a human person or surpasses human capabilities have extend in a way that it has become a common slang to talk about intelligent machines or smart devices.

While the original intention for the development of computers was to improve the cognitive tools with the intend  to support human beings one can  get today  the impression as if the computer has turned into a goal on its own: the intelligent and then — as supposed — the super-intelligent computer appears now as the primary goal and mankind appears as some old relic which has to be surpassed soon.

As will be shown later in this text this vision of the computer surpassing mankind has some assumptions which are

What seems possible and what seems to be a promising roadmap into the future is a continuous step-wise enhancement of the biological structure of mankind which absorbs the modern computing technology by new cognitive interfaces which in turn presuppose new types of physical interfaces.

To give a precise definition of these new upcoming structures and functions is not yet possible, but to identify the actual driving factors as well as the exciting combinations of factors seems possible.

COGNITION EMBEDDED IN MATTER
Actor-Cognition Interaction (ACI): A simple outline of the whole paradigm
Cognition within the Actor-Actor Interaction (AAI)  paradigm: A simple outline of the whole paradigm

The main idea is the shift of the focus away from the physical grounding of the interaction between actors looking instead more to the cognitive contents and processes, which shall be mediated  by the physical conditions. Clearly the analysis of the physical conditions as well as the optimal design of these physical conditions is still a challenge and a task, but without a clear knowledge manifested in a clear model about the intended cognitive contents and processes one has not enough knowledge for the design of the physical layout.

SOLVING A PROBLEM

Thus the starting point of an engineering process is a group of people (the stakeholders (SH)) which identify some problem (P) in their environment and which have some minimal idea of a possible solution (S) for this problem. This can be commented by some non-functional requirements (NFRs) articulating some more general properties which shall hold through the whole solution (e.g. ‘being save’, ‘being barrier-free’, ‘being real-time’ etc.). If the description of the problem with a first intended solution including the NFRs contains at least one task (T) to be solved, minimal intended users (U) (here called executive actors (eA)), minimal intended assistive actors (aA) to assist the user in doing the task, as well as a description of the environment of the task to do, then the minimal ACI-Check can be passed and the ACI analysis process can be started.

COGNITION AND AUGMENTED COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

If we talk about cognition then we think usually about cognitive processes in an individual person.  But in the real world there is no cognition without an ongoing exchange between different individuals by communicative acts. Furthermore it has to be taken into account that the cognition of an individual person is in itself partitioned into two unequal parts: the unconscious part which covers about 99% of all the processes in the body and in the brain and about 1% which covers the conscious part. That an individual person can think somehow something this person has to trigger his own unconsciousness by stimuli to respond with some messages from his before unknown knowledge. Thus even an individual person alone has to organize a communication with his own unconsciousness to be able to have some conscious knowledge about its own unconscious knowledge. And because no individual person has at a certain point of time a clear knowledge of his unconscious knowledge  the person even does not really know what to look for — if there is no event, not perception, no question and the like which triggers the person to interact with its unconscious knowledge (and experience) to get some messages from this unconscious machinery, which — as it seems — is working all the time.

On account of this   logic of the individual internal communication with the individual cognition  an external communication with the world and the manifested cognition of other persons appears as a possible enrichment in the   interactions with the distributed knowledge in the different persons. While in the following approach it is assumed to represent the different knowledge responses in a common symbolic representation viewable (and hearable)  from all participating persons it is growing up a possible picture of something which is generally more rich, having more facets than a picture generated by an individual person alone. Furthermore can such a procedure help all participants to synchronize their different knowledge fragments in a bigger picture and use it further on as their own picture, which in turn can trigger even more aspects out of the distributed unconscious knowledge.

If one organizes this collective triggering of distributed unconscious knowledge within a communication process not only by static symbolic models but beyond this with dynamic rules for changes, which can be interactively simulated or even played with defined states of interest then the effect of expanding the explicit and shared knowledge will be boosted even more.

From this background it makes some sense to turn the wording Actor-Cognition Interaction into the wording Augmented Collective Intelligence where Intelligence is the component of dynamic cognition in a system — here a human person –, Collective means that different individual person are sharing their unconscious knowledge by communicative interactions, and Augmented can be interpreted that one enhances, extends this sharing of knowledge by using new tools of modeling, simulation and gaming, which expands and intensifies the individual learning as well as the commonly shared opinions. For nearly all problems today this appears to be  absolutely necessary.

ACI ANALYSIS PROCESS

Here it will be assumed that there exists a group of ACI experts which can supervise  other actors (stakeholders, domain experts, …) in a process to analyze the problem P with the explicit goal of finding a satisfying solution (S+).

For the whole ACI analysis process an appropriate ACI software should be available to support the ACI experts as well as all the other domain experts.

In this ACI analysis process one can distinguish two main phases: (1) Construct an actor story (AS) which describes all intended states and intended changes within the actor story. (2) Make several tests of the actor story to exploit their explanatory power.

ACTOR STORY (AS)

The actor story describes all possible states (S) of the tasks (T) to be realized to reach intended goal states (S+). A mapping from one state to a follow-up state will be described by a change rule (X). Thus having start state (S0) and appropriate change rules one can construct the follow-up states from the actual state (S*)  with the aid of the change rules. Formally this computation of the follow-up state (S’) will be computed by a simulator function (σ), written as: σ: S* x X  —> S.

SEVERAL TESTS

With the aid of an explicit actor story (AS) one can define the non-functional requirements (NFRs) in a way that it will become decidable whether  a NFR is valid with regard to an actor story or not. In this case this test of being valid can be done as an automated verification process (AVP). Part of this test paradigm is the so-called oracle function (OF) where one can pose a question to the system and the system will answer the question with regard to all theoretically possible states without the necessity to run a (passive) simulation.

If the size of the group is large and it is important that all members of the group have a sufficient similar knowledge about the problem(s) in question (as it is the usual case in a city with different kinds of citizens) then is can be very helpful to enable interactive simulations or even games, which allow a more direct experience of the possible states and changes. Furthermore, because the participants can act according to their individual reflections and goals the process becomes highly uncertain and nearly unpredictable. Especially for these highly unpredictable processes can interactive simulations (and games) help to improve a common understanding of the involved factors and their effects. The difference between a normal interactive simulation and a game is given in the fact that a game has explicit win-states whereas the interactive simulations doesn’t. Explicit win-states can improve learning a lot.

The other interesting question is whether an actor story AS with a certain idea for an assistive actor (aA) is usable for the executive actors. This requires explicit measurements of the usability which in turn requires a clear norm of reference with which the behavior of an executive actor (eA) during a process can be compared. Usually is the actor Story as such the norm of reference with which the observable behavior of the executing actors will be compared. Thus for the measurement one needs real executive actors which represent the intended executive actors and one needs a physical realization of the intended assistive actors called mock-up. A mock-up is not yet  the final implementation of the intended assistive actor but a physical entity which can show all important physical properties of the intended assistive actor in a way which allows a real test run. While in the past it has been assumed to be sufficient to test a test person only once it is here assumed that a test person has to be tested at least three times. This follows from the assumption that every executive (biological) actor is inherently a learning system. This implies that the test person will behave differently in different tests. The degree of changes can be a hint of the easiness and the learnability of the assistive actor.

COLLECTIVE MEMORY

If an appropriate ACI software is available then one can consider an actor story as a simple theory (ST) embracing a model (M) and a collection of rules (R) — ST(x) iff x = <M,R> –which can be used as a kind of a     building block which in turn can be combined with other such building blocks resulting in a complex network of simple theories. If these simple theories are stored in a  public available data base (like a library of theories) then one can built up in time a large knowledge base on their own.

 

 

ACTOR-ACTOR INTERACTION ANALYSIS – A rough Outline of the Blueprint

eJournal: uffmm.org,
ISSN 2567-6458, 13.February 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

Last corrections: 14.February 2019 (add some more keywords; added  emphasizes for central words)

Change: 5.May 2019 (adding the the aspect of simulation and gaming; extending the view of the driving actors)

CONTEXT

An overview to the enhanced AAI theory  version 2 you can find here.  In this post we talk about the blueprint  of the whole  AAI analysis process. Here I leave out the topic of actor models (AM); the aspect of  simulation and gaming is mentioned only shortly. For these topics see other posts.

THE AAI ANALYSIS BLUEPRINT

Blueprint of the whole AAI analysis process including the epistemological assumptions. Not shown here is the whole topic of actor models (AM) and as well simulation.
Blueprint of the whole AAI analysis process including the epistemological assumptions. Not shown here is the whole topic of actor models (AM) and as well simulation.

The Actor-Actor Interaction (AAI) analysis is understood here as part of an  embracing  systems engineering process (SEP), which starts with the statement of a problem (P) which includes a vision (V) of an improved alternative situation. It has then to be analyzed how such a new improved situation S+ looks like; how one can realize certain tasks (T)  in an improved way.

DRIVING ACTORS

The driving actors for such an AAI analysis are at least one  stakeholder (STH) which communicates a problem P and an envisioned solution (ES) to an  expert (EXPaai) with a sufficient AAI experience. This expert will take   the lead in the process of transforming the problem and the envisioned  solution into a working solution (WS).

In the classical industrial case the stakeholder can be a group of managers from some company and the expert is also represented by a whole team of experts from different disciplines, including the AAI perspective as leading perspective.

In another case which  I will call here the  communal case — e.g. a whole city —      the stakeholder as well as the experts are members of the communal entity.   As   in the before mentioned cases there is some commonly accepted problem P combined  with a first envisioned solution ES, which shall be analyzed: what is needed to make it working? Can it work at all? What are costs? And many other questions can arise. The challenge to include all relevant experience and knowledge from all participants is at the center of the communication and to transform this available knowledge into some working solution which satisfies all stated requirements for all participants is a central  condition for the success of the project.

EPISTEMOLOGY

It has to be taken into account that the driving actors are able to do this job because they  have in their bodies brains (BRs) which in turn include  some consciousness (CNS). The processes and states beyond the consciousness are here called ‘unconscious‘ and the set of all these unconscious processes is called ‘the Unconsciousness’ (UCNS).

For more details to the cognitive processes see the post to the philosophical framework as well as the post bottom-up process. Both posts shall be integrated into one coherent view in the future.

SEMIOTIC SUBSYSTEM

An important set of substructures of the unconsciousness are those which enable symbolic language systems with so-called expressions (L) on one side and so-called non-expressions (~L) on the other. Embedded in a meaning relation (MNR) does the set of non-expressions ~L  function as the meaning (MEAN) of the expressions L, written as a mapping MNR: L <—> ~L. Depending from the involved sensors the expressions L can occur either as acoustic events L_spk, or as visual patterns written L_txt or visual patterns as pictures L_pict or even in other formats, which will not discussed here. The non-expressions can occur in every format which the brain can handle.

While written (symbolic) expressions L are only associated with the intended meaning through encoded mappings in the brain,  the spoken expressions L_spk as well as the pictorial ones L_pict can show some similarities with the intended meaning. Within acoustic  expressions one can ‘imitate‘ some sounds which are part of a meaning; even more can the pictorial expressions ‘imitate‘ the visual experience of the intended meaning to a high degree, but clearly not every kind of meaning.

DEFINING THE MAIN POINT OF REFERENCE

Because the space of possible problems and visions it nearly infinite large one has to define for a certain process the problem of the actual process together with the vision of a ‘better state of the affairs’. This is realized by a description of he problem in a problem document D_p as well as in a vision statement D_v. Because usually a vision is not without a given context one has to add all the constraints (C) which have to be taken into account for the possible solution.  Examples of constraints are ‘non-functional requirements’ (NFRs) like “safety” or “real time” or “without barriers” (for handicapped people). Part of the non-functional requirements are also definitions of win-lose states as part of a game.

AAI ANALYSIS – BASIC PROCEDURE

If the AAI check has been successful and there is at least one task T to be done in an assumed environment ENV and there are at least one executing actor A_exec in this task as well as an assisting actor A_ass then the AAI analysis can start.

ACTOR STORY (AS)

The main task is to elaborate a complete description of a process which includes a start state S* and a goal state S+, where  the participating executive actors A_exec can reach the goal state S+ by doing some actions. While the imagined process p_v  is a virtual (= cognitive/ mental) model of an intended real process p_e, this intended virtual model p_e can only be communicated by a symbolic expressions L embedded in a meaning relation. Thus the elaboration/ construction of the intended process will be realized by using appropriate expressions L embedded in a meaning relation. This can be understood as a basic mapping of sensor based perceptions of the supposed real world into some abstract virtual structures automatically (unconsciously) computed by the brain. A special kind of this mapping is the case of measurement.

In this text especially three types of symbolic expressions L will be used: (i) pictorial expressions L_pict, (ii) textual expressions of a natural language L_txt, and (iii) textual expressions of a mathematical language L_math. The meaning part of these symbolic expressions as well as the expressions itself will be called here an actor story (AS) with the different modes  pictorial AS (PAS), textual AS (TAS), as well as mathematical AS (MAS).

The basic elements of an  actor story (AS) are states which represent sets of facts. A fact is an expression of some defined language L which can be decided as being true in a real situation or not (the past and the future are special cases for such truth clarifications). Facts can be identified as actors which can act by their own. The transformation from one state to a follow up state has to be described with sets of change rules. The combination of states and change rules defines mathematically a directed graph (G).

Based on such a graph it is possible to derive an automaton (A) which can be used as a simulator. A simulator allows simulations. A concrete simulation takes a start state S0 as the actual state S* and computes with the aid of the change rules one follow up state S1. This follow up state becomes then the new actual state S*. Thus the simulation constitutes a continuous process which generally can be infinite. To make the simulation finite one has to define some stop criteria (C*). A simulation can be passive without any interruption or interactive. The interactive mode allows different external actors to select certain real values for the available variables of the actual state.

If in the problem definition certain win-lose states have been defined then one can turn an interactive simulation into a game where the external actors can try to manipulate the process in a way as to reach one of the defined win-states. As soon as someone (which can be a team) has reached a win-state the responsible actor (or team) has won. Such games can be repeated to allow accumulation of wins (or loses).

Gaming allows a far better experience of the advantages or disadvantages of some actor story as a rather lose simulation. Therefore the probability to detect aspects of an actor story with their given constraints is by gaming quite high and increases the probability to improve the whole concept.

Based on an actor story with a simulator it is possible to increase the cognitive power of exploring the future even more.  There exists the possibility to define an oracle algorithm as well as different kinds of intelligent algorithms to support the human actor further. This has to be described in other posts.

TAR AND AAR

If the actor story is completed (in a certain version v_i) then one can extract from the story the input-output profiles of every participating actor. This list represents the task-induced actor requirements (TAR).  If one is looking for concrete real persons for doing the job of an executing actor the TAR can be used as a benchmark for assessing candidates for this job. The profiles of the real persons are called here actor-actor induced requirements (AAR), that is the real profile compared with the ideal profile of the TAR. If the ‘distance’ between AAR and TAR is below some threshold then the candidate has either to be rejected or one can offer some training to improve his AAR; the other option is to  change the conditions of the TAR in a way that the TAR is more closer to the AARs.

The TAR is valid for the executive actors as well as for the assisting actors A_ass.

CONSTRAINTS CHECK

If the actor story has in some version V_i a certain completion one has to check whether the different constraints which accompany the vision document are satisfied through the story: AS_vi |- C.

Such an evaluation is only possible if the constraints can be interpreted with regard to the actor story AS in version vi in a way, that the constraints can be decided.

For many constraints it can happen that the constraints can not or not completely be decided on the level of the actor story but only in a later phase of the systems engineering process, when the actor story will be implemented in software and hardware.

MEASURING OF USABILITY

Using the actor story as a benchmark one can test the quality of the usability of the whole process by doing usability tests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AAI THEORY V2 – MEASURING USABILITY

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 6.February 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

An overview of the enhanced AAI theory  version 2 you can find here.  In this post we talk about the tenth chapter dealing with Measuring Usability

MEASURING  USABILITY

As has been delineated in the post “Usability and Usefulness”   statements  about the quality of the usability of some assisting actor are based on some  kinds of measurement: mapping some target (here the interactions of an executive actor with some assistive actor) into some predefined norm (e.g. ‘number of errors’, ‘time needed for completion’, …).   These remarks are here embedded in a larger perspective following   Dumas and  Fox (2008).

Overview of Usability Testing following the article of Dumas & Fox (2008), with some new AAI specific terminology
Overview of Usability Testing following the article of Dumas & Fox (2008), with some new AAI specific terminology

From the three main types of usability testing with regard to the position in the life-cycle of a system we focus here primarily on the usability testing as part of the analysis phase where the developers want to get direct feedback for the concepts embedded in an actor story. Depending from this feedback the actor story and its related models can become modified and this can result in a modified exploratory mock-up  for a new test. The challenge is not to be ‘complete’ in finding ‘disturbing’ factors during an interaction but to increase the probability to detect possible disturbing factors by facing the symbolically represented concepts of the actor story with a sample of real world actors. Experiments  point to the number of 5-10 test persons which seem to be sufficient to detect the most severe disturbing factors of the concepts.

Usability testing procedure according to Lauesen (2005), adapted to the AAI paradigm
Usability testing procedure according to Lauesen (2005), adapted to the AAI paradigm

A good description of usability testing can be found in the book Lauesen (2005), especially chapters 1 +13.  According to this one can infer the following basic schema for a usability test:

  1. One needs 5 – 10 test persons whose input-output profile (AAR) comes close to the profile (TAR) required by the actor story.
  2. One needs a  mock-up of the assistive actor; this mock-up  should  correspond ‘sufficiently well’ with the input-output profile (TAR) required by the  actor story. In the simplest case one has a ‘paper model’, whose sheets can be changed on demand.
  3. One needs a facilitator who is receiving the test person, introduces the test person into the task (orally and/ or by a short document (less than a page)), then accompanies the test without interacting further with the test person until the end of the test.  The end is either reached by completing the task or by reaching the end of a predefined duration time.
  4. After the test person has finished the test   a debriefing happens by interrogating the test person about his/ her subjective feelings about the test. Because interviews are always very fuzzy and not very reliable one should keep this interrogation simple, short, and associated with concrete points. One strategy could be to ask the test person first about the general feeling: Was it ‘very good’, ‘good’, ‘OK’, ‘undefined’, ‘not OK’, ‘bad’, ‘very bad’ (+3 … 0 … -3). If the stated feeling is announced then one can ask back which kinds of circumstances caused these feelings.
  5. During the test at least two observers are observing the behavior of the test person. The observer are using as their ‘norm’ the actor story which tells what ‘should happen in the ideal case’. If a test person is deviating from the actor story this will be noted as a ‘deviation of kind X’, and this counts as an error. Because an actor story in the mathematical format represents a graph it is simple to quantify the behavior of the test person with regard to how many nodes of a solution path have been positively passed. This gives a count for the percentage of how much has been done. Thus the observer can deliver data about at least the ‘percentage of task completion’, ‘the number (and kind) of errors by deviations’, and ‘the processing time’. The advantage of having the actor story as a  norm is that all observers will use the same ‘observation categories’.
  6. From the debriefing one gets data about the ‘good/ bad’ feelings on a scale, and some hints what could have caused the reported feelings.

STANDARDS – CIF (Common Industry Format)

There are many standards around describing different aspects of usability testing. Although standards can help in practice  from the point of research standards are not only good, they can hinder creative alternative approaches. Nevertheless I myself are looking to standards to check for some possible ‘references’.  One standard I am using very often is the  “Common Industry Format (CIF)”  for usability reporting. It is  an ISO standard (ISO/IEC 25062:2006) since  2006. CIF describes a method for reporting the findings of usability tests that collect quantitative measurements of user performance. CIF does not describe how to carry out a usability test, but it does require that the test include measurements of the application’s effectiveness and efficiency as well as a measure of the users’ satisfaction. These are the three elements that define the concept of usability.

Applied to the AAI paradigm these terms are fitting well.

Effectiveness in CIF  is targeting  the accuracy and completeness with which users achieve their goal. Because the actor story in AAI his represented as a graph where the individual paths represents a way to approach a defined goal one can measure directly the accuracy by comparing the ‘observed path’ in a test and the ‘intended ideal path’ in the actor story. In the same way one can compute the completeness by comparing the observed path and the intended ideal path of the actor story.

Efficiency in CIF covers the resources expended to achieve the goals. A simple and direct measure is the measuring of the time needed.

Users’ satisfaction in CIF means ‘freedom from discomfort’ and ‘positive attitudes towards the use of the product‘. These are ‘subjective feelings’ which cannot directly be observed. Only ‘indirect’ measures are possible based on interrogations (or interactions with certain tasks) which inherently are fuzzy and not very reliable.  One possibility how to interrogate is mentioned above.

Because the term usability in CIF is defined by the before mentioned terms of effectiveness, efficiency as well as  users’ satisfaction, which in turn can be measured in many different ways the meaning of ‘usability’ is still a bit vague.

DYNAMIC ACTORS – CHANGING CONTEXTS

With regard to the AAI paradigm one has further to mention that the possibility of adaptive, learning systems embedded in dynamic, changing  environments requires for a new type of usability testing. Because learning actors change by every exercise one should run a test several times to observe how the dynamic learning rates of an actor are developing in time. In such a dynamic framework  a system would only be  ‘badly usable‘ when the learning curves of the actors can not approach a certain threshold after a defined ‘typical learning time’. And,  moreover, there could be additional effects occurring only in a long-term usage and observation, which can not be measured in a single test.

REFERENCES

  • ISO/IEC 25062:2006(E)
  • Joseph S. Dumas and Jean E. Fox. Usability testing: Current practice
    and future directions. chapter 57, pp.1129 – 1149,  in J.A. Jacko and A. Sears, editors, The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies, and Emerging Applications. 2nd edition, 2008
  • S. Lauesen. User Interface Design. A software Engineering Perspective.
    Pearson – Addison Wesley, London et al., 2005

AAI THEORY V2 – USABILITY AND USEFULNESS

eJournal: uffmm.org
ISSN 2567-6458, 4.February 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

REMARK (5.May 2019)

This text  has to be reviewed again on account of the new aspect of gaming as  discussed in the post Engineering and Society.

CONTEXT

An overview of the enhanced AAI theory  version 2 you can find here.  In this post we talk about the sixth chapter dealing with usability and usefulness.

USABILITY AND USEFULNESS

In the AAI paradigm the concept of usability is seen as a sub-topic of the more broader concept of usefulness. Furthermore Usefulness  as well as usability are understood as measurements comparing some target with some presupposed norm.

Example: If someone wants to buy a product A whose prize fits well with the available budget and this product A shows only  an average usability then the product is probably ‘more useful’ for the buyer than another product B which does not fit with the budget although it  has a better usability. A conflict can  arise if the weaker value of the usability of product A causes during the usage of product A ‘bad effects’ onto the user of product A which in turn produce additional negative costs which enhance the original ‘nice price’ to a degree where the product A becomes finally  ‘more costly’ than product B.

Therefore  the concept usefulness will be  defined independently from the concept usability and depends completely  from the person or company who is searching for the solution of a problem. The concept of usability depends directly on the real structure of an  actor, a biological one or a non-biological one. Thus independent of the definition of the actual usefulness the given structure of an actor implies certain capabilities with regard to input, output as well as to  internal   processing. Therefore if an X seems to be highly useful for someone and to get X  needs a certain actor story to become realized with certain actors then it can matter whether this process includes a ‘good usability’ for the participating actors or not.

In the AAI paradigm both concepts usefulness as well as usability will be analyzed to provide a  chance to check the contributions of both concepts  in some predefined duration of usage. This allows the analysis of the sustainability of the wanted usefulness restricted to  usability as a parameter. There can be even more parameters   included in the evaluation of the actor story  to enhance the scope of   sustainability. Depending from the definition of the concept of resilience one can interpret the concept of sustainability used in this AAI paradigm as compatible with the resilience concept too.

MEASUREMENT

To speak about ‘usefulness’, ‘usability’, ‘sustainability’ (or ‘resilience’) requires some kind of a scale of values with an   ordering relation R allowing to state about  some values x,y   whether R(x,y) or R(y,x) or EQUAL(x,y). The values used in the scale have to be generated by some defined process P which is understood as a measurement process M which basically compares some target X with some predefined norm N and gives as a result a pair (v,N) telling a number v associated with the applied norm N. Written: M : X x N —> V x N.

A measurement procedure M must be transparent and repeatable in the sense that the repeated application of the measurement procedure M will generate the same results than before. Associated with the measurement procedure there can exist many additional parameters like ‘location’, ‘time’, ‘temperature’, ‘humidity’,  ‘used technologies’, etc.

Because there exist targets X which are not static it can be a problem when and how often one has to measure these targets to get some reliable value. And this problem becomes even worse if the target includes adaptive systems which are changing constantly like in the case of  biological systems.

All biological systems have some degree of learnability. Thus if a human actor is acting as part of an actor story  the human actor will learn every time he is working through the process. Thus making errors during his first run of the process does not imply that he will repeat these errors the next time. Usually one can observe a learning curve associated with n-many runs which show — mostly — a decrease in errors, a decrease in processing time, and — in general — a change of all parameters, which can be measured. Thus a certain actor story can receive a good usability value after a defined number of usages.  But there are other possible subjective parameters like satisfaction, being excited, being interested and the like which can change in the opposite direction, because to become well adapted to  the process can be boring which in turn can lead to less concentrations with many different negative consequences.

 

 

 

 

AAI THEORY V2 – DEFINING THE CONTEXT

eJournal: uffmm.org,
ISSN 2567-6458, 24.Januar 2019
Email: info@uffmm.org
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch
Email: gerd@doeben-henisch.de

CONTEXT

An overview to the enhanced AAI theory  version 2 you can find here.  In this post we talk about the second chapter where you have to define the context of the problem, which should be analyzed.

DEFINING THE CONTEXT OF PROBLEM P

  1. A defined problem P identifies at least one property associated with  a configuration which has a lower level x than a value y inferred by an accepted standard E.
  2. The property P is always part of some environment ENV which interacts with the problem P.
  3. To approach an improved configuration S measured by  some standard E starting with a  problem P one  needs a process characterized by a set of necessary states Q which are connected by necessary changes X.
  4. Such a process can be described by an actor story AS.
  5. All properties which belong to the whole actor story and therefore have to be satisfied by every state q of the actor story  are called  non-functional process requirements (NFPRs). If required properties are are associate with only one state but for the whole state, then these requirements are called non-functional state requirements (NFSRs).
  6. An actor story can include many different sequences, where every sequence is called a path PTH.  A finite set of paths can represent a task T which has to be fulfilled. Within the environment of the defined problem P it mus be possible to identify at least one task T to be realized from some start state to some goal state. The realization of a task T is assumed to be ‘driven’ by input-output-systems which are called actors A.
  7. Additionally it mus be possible to identify at least one executing actor A_exec doing a  task and at least one actor assisting A_ass the executing actor to fulfill the task.
  8. A state q represents all needed actors as part of the associated environment ENV. Therefore a  state q can be analyzed as a network of elements interacting with each other. But this is only one possible structure for an analysis besides others.
  9. For the   analysis of a possible solution one can distinguish at least two overall strategies:
    1. Top-down: There exists a group of experts EXPs which will analyze a possible solution, will test these, and then will propose these as a solution for others.
    2. Bottom-up: There exists a group of experts EXPs too but additionally there exists a group of customers CTMs which will be guided by the experts to use their own experience to find a possible solution.

EXAMPLE

The mayor of a city has identified as a  problem the relationship between the actual population number POP,    the amount of actual available  living space LSP0, and the  amount of recommended living space LSPr by some standard E.  The population of his city is steadily interacting with populations in the environment: citizens are moving into the environment MIGR- and citizens from the environment are arriving MIGR+. The population,  the city as well as the environment can be characterized by a set of parameters <P1, …, Pn> called a configuration which represents a certain state q at a certain point of time t. To convert the actual configuration called a start state q0 to a new configuration S called a goal state q+ with better values requires the application of a defined set of changes Xs which change the start state q0 stepwise into a sequence of states qi which finally will end up in the desired goal state q+. A description of all these states necessary for the conversion of the start state q0 into the goal state q+ is called here an actor story AS. Because a democratic elected  mayor of the city wants to be ‘liked’ by his citizens he will require that this conversion process should end up in a goal state which is ‘not harmful’ for his citizens, which should support a ‘secure’ and ‘safety’ environment, ‘good transportation’ and things like that. This illustrates non-functional state requirements (NFSRs). Because the mayor wants also not to much trouble during the conversion process he will also require some limits for the whole conversion process, this is for the whole actor story. This illustrates non-functional process requirements (NFPRs). To realize the intended conversion process the mayor needs several executing actors which are doing the job and several other assistive actors helping the executing actors. To be able to use the available time and resources ‘effectively’ the executing actors need defined tasks which have to be realized to come from one state to the next. Often there are more than one sequences of states possible either alternatively or in parallel. A certain state at a certain point of time t can be viewed as a network where all participating actors are in many ways connected with each other, interacting in several ways and thereby influencing each other. This realizes different kinds of communications with different kinds of contents and allows the exchange of material and can imply the change of the environment. Until today the mayors of cities use as their preferred strategy to realize conversion processes selected small teams of experts doing their job in a top-down manner leaving the citizens more or less untouched, at least without a serious participation in the whole process. From now on it is possible and desirable to twist the strategy from top-down to bottom up. This implies that the selected experts enable a broad communication with potentially all citizens which are touched by a conversion and including  the knowledge, experience, skills, visions etc. of these citizens  by applying new methods possible in the new digital age.