Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Quick Look at Educational Programs in Cyber Security and Human Factors

The "human agent" is at the center of all security systems. According to
IBM, 95 percent of all security incidents involve human error. [5] One can
assume that human factors should be one of the main areas utilized to
educate future security experts. Developing an understanding of human
behavior must become a focal area for future experts from both a human
computer interaction point of view and a pure human factors perspective.

A quick look at 25 educational programs [6] in the cyber security area
reveals that the educational programs are only offered to postgraduates in
the U.S. Most of the offered programs are within the Eastern U.S.

Looking at the courses offered in this area reveals no base standard for the
content of programs. Among 70 topics identified only the following are
offered by multiple institutions: Forensics (12), Cryptography (8),
Information Assurance (9), Information Security (10), Information Technology
(6), Network Security (10) and Security Management (4).

It is interesting to observe that among these entire programs only one
institution offers a course on "Human Factors and Managing Risk" (Norwich
University Online). Even this course is still not a full human factors

Many private enterprises seem to hire their security analysts from fields
like psychology and the social sciences due to a lack of resources invested
in the study of cyber security. This only emphasizes a crucial need for
courses in human factors and cyber security not only to be offered more
widely as graduate programs but also offered within undergraduate programs.

In this area I believe the AHFEI by organizing the "2nd International
Conference on Human Factors in Cybersecurity" has an important role to play
in promoting awareness and communicating the importance of incorporating
human factors within our educational programs.

Abbas Moallem, Ph.D.

Published AHFEI NEWS, FEb 2016

Friday, May 15, 2015

UI Architect Vs. UX Architect

Within the field of Human Computer Interaction and specifically in the area of user interface design, usability and user experience (all different ways of expressing a similar concept), there is some confusion among many hiring managers, recruiters and human resource professionals about the difference between a “UX Architect” and “UI Architect”. As a result, many job offerings and job descriptions use these two interchangeably. 

Some years ago, due to the limited number of opportunities in user experience, the term “UX Architect” did not exist in job rankings and “UI Architect” was generally used for both. Today’s market has extensively changed. User interface design includes two distinct areas that is Design and implementation of the design in terms of UI. Professionals who are specialized in user research, user interface design, prototyping and usability testing and evaluation often do not have any specific software engineering or coding experience. On the other hand, the professionals who are doing UI development implementation of UI design created by the first group are often not trained in the field of HCI.

Consequently, “UX architect” generally refers to senior level user interface designers with advanced knowledge of HCI who are not necessarily experts in UI implementation or any type of coding but have knowledge of the UI and capabilities.
On the other hand, "UI architect" refers to experts in UI development and UI technologies and coding.

Thus if you need somebody to supervise and manage your UI development then you need a “UI architect” but if you want to create a user  interface design from concept to evaluation then you might look for a “UX architect”.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?

Science-Fiction movies often depict human made machines or robots destroying their creators, invading planets, and bringing an end to humanity. A few examples from a long list include I, Robot (2004), Artificial Intelligence (2001), Terminator (1984) and The Matrix (1999). Even the brilliant Stephen Hawking warns us that in fact “artificial intelligence could end mankind” (1). In light of the prevalence of this discussion, the question rises of how it may be a topic deserving of more attention within the HCI community. After all we are investigating ‘Human-Computer Interaction’. Should we not open a discussion on this topic as one deserving of research and conferences?

Professor Hawking’s main fear is that a new machine might be able to redesign and reinvent itself since it is not dependent on biological evolution. Hawking himself has for a longtime used an A.I. machine to communicate, giving him the experience to perhaps support his warning.

Elon Musk [2], the product architect of Tesla, has invested $10 million to try and keep A.I. friendly—or under control. He also shares a fear of A.I. When Bill Gates [3] was asked about his own thoughts, he said that he stands “in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.”

On the other side, there are some scientific and industrialist minds that consider the risk exaggerated [4]. However, given the prevalence of the discussion regarding artificial intelligence, do you think there should be a larger focus on the matter within the HCI community?
[1]“Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind,” BBC, 2 December 2014.
[2]Why Elon Musk Spent $10 Million To Keep Artificial Intelligence Friendly,” Forbes, 15 January 2015.
[3]“Bill Gates Says You Should Worry About Artificial Intelligence, Forbes, 1 January, 2015.
[4]“Scientists say AI fears unfounded, could hinder tech advances,” Computerworld, Jan 29, 2015.

Published in HCII NEWS News, March, 2015

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Review: Ewolucja Form Sprzetow Do Siedzenia (Evolution of Sitting Furniture Forms From Prehistory to the Machine Age) In Polish

In this amazing book on the history of chairs, Jerzy Charytonowicz provides us with an extraordinary voyage through time with this common object, one that we use every day and sits center stage in the field of ergonomics. If you want to create an expose or lecture on chairs, this book is a must.

While the book is in Polish, a language not accessible to most readers including myself, there is an in-depth English summary included at the end. The book itself includes an immense number of museum pictures and drawings that will enable you to see how “from the very beginning, furniture for sitting has comprised constructions whose dimensions and forms were determined by the shape and size of the human body. That kind of furniture, thus, frequently became ‘prints’ of the human body (according to this principle ergonomic constructions for sitting were shaped), and remained without a user it was designated for, the furniture became a symbol always associated with a man and was referred to as ‘empty chair’ - left by someone or waiting for someone. Chairs sculptured, adorned with intarsia, painted or decorated with various materials always exhibited a level of craftsmanship specific to a certain historical period, types of available materials, tools and a level of manufacture technology as well as social needs, artistic ideas, becoming a source of information about the time they originated in. As one of the most formally varied type of furniture, always being in the direct contact with man, chairs have always intrigued artists and architects becoming an object of various creative experiments. Designing furniture for sitting gave artists an opportunity to integrate their technical and anthropological knowledge, knowledge about the surrounding world and people's needs, and it also provided a chance to apply new materials and professional experience. Therefore, as history shows, the most frequently designed furniture for sitting was of concern to architects treating it as an integral part of designed buildings and manifestation of their artistic ideas.”
I found the reading and viewing of the pictures to be an enjoyable experience, one that can be undoubtedly shared by others.


Ewolucja Form Sprzetow Do Siedzenia (Evolution of Sitting Furniture Forms From Prehistory to the Machine Age) by Jerzy Charytonowicz, Edition WROCLSW, 20017. ISBN 978-83-7493-328-5- In Polish

Published in AHFE International News, August, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

HCII 2014 is over

We thank all participants of the HCII 2014 Conference, held in Crete, Greece, 22-27 June and look forward to welcoming you all again in Los Angeles, CA, USA for HCII 2015. 

The HCII 2014 conference was held under the auspices of 14 international boards comprising 342 members from 38 countries.

Close to 2.000 people from 73 countries attended this year’s conference.  In 244 sessions, 1476 papers were presented and 225 posters were displayed. 

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. James R. (Jim) Lewis (IBM, USA). His speech, entitled "Usability: Lessons Learned ... and Yet to Be Learned", reviewed five of the persistent controversies in the field of usability, providing a historical perspective and a pragmatic assessment of their current status.  A companion article in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction is available at no charge for a limited period of time at:

One of the most outstanding features of the HCI International conferences is the variety of cultures and institutions that are represented by the contributing participants. With hundreds of papers and sessions to consider, it is truly challenging to choose an area that stood out in popularity and interest. Yet, there was a multitude of research on gestures and haptic interfaces, cognitive modeling, virtual reality and healthcare. This was the content of just some of the many well-attended sessions.

During the opening session of HCII 2014 sixteen awards were conferred. Fourteen awards were conferred to the best papers in each Affiliated Conference / Thematic Area. Among these fourteen best papers, one paper was selected as Best HCI International 2014 Conference paper. Finally, the Best Poster also received an award. For more information, please visit the conference website at:

Looking forward to seeing everyone at Los Angeles in 2015.


Published in: HCI International NEWS - July 2014 - Number 66

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: Designing with the Mind in Mind

In the 14 chapters of this book the authors provide an excellent selection of topics and examples that constitutes necessary knowledge for everyone involved in designing user interfaces, and perhaps even all software engineers. 

The book starts by reviewing human perception (Chapter 1), followed by vision and visual perception, visual structure (chapter 2 and 3), color blindness (chapter 4), and peripheral vision (chapter 5).
Reading, attention, learning, decision making and aim movement are covered by focusing on areas that are really relevant to HCI and user interface design.
The book is easy to read for novice audiences, students and particularly practitioners. It is well illustrated with plenty of examples.
One missing topic might be a chapter on movement and touch, necessary for interaction design for touch screens.

Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Guidelines, by Jeff Johnson
Second Edition, Morgan Kaufmann is an imprint of Elsevier, Press, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-12-407914-4 

HCI International NEWS - May 2014 - Number 65

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Douglas Engelbart passed away on July 3rd 2013.

Douglas Engelbart, who invented the first computer mouse and helped develop the PC user interface, passed away this July. Dr. Engelbart died at 88 at his home in Atherton, California. The New York Times obituary cited the cause of death as stated by his wife Karen was kidney failure.
Douglas Carl Engelbart was born in Portland, Oregon on Jan. 30th, 1925. He spending his childhood years on a farm in Portland, graduated from high school in 1942 and then proceeded to attend Oregon State College. According to the New York Times, “towards the end of World War II, he was drafted. He spent two years in the Navy, one of them in the Philippines, as a radar technician.
One day he was in a reading library on a small island when an article titled “As We May Think” caught his eye. The article, by Vannevar Bush, a physicist and inventor who oversaw the United States Office of Scientific Research and Development during the war, described a universal information retrieval system called Memex. The idea stuck with Dr. Engelbart, and he made it his life’s work. “
Without question Engelbart was one of the most influential people in the development and power of the personal computer.


For More about Douglas Engelbart …
“Computer Visionary Who Invented the Mouse,”, July 3rd 2013.

"From the archives: Douglas Engelbart's lasting legacy, 1999," the Mercury News, July 3, 013.

Remembering Douglas Engelbart,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 56 No. 9, Pages 24-25

 HCI International NEWS – September  2013 - Number 61