Radical Systems Thinking and the future role of Computational Modelling in Ergonomics: An Exploration of Agent-Based Modelling

Matt Holman, Guy Walker, Terry Lansdown, Adam Hulme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
387 Downloads (Pure)


We are teetering on the precipice of the imminent fourth industrial revolution. In this new age, systems are set to become more densely intraconnected and interconnected, and massive sociotechnical systems exhibiting unprecedented levels of complexity will increasingly take hold. At the dawning of this new age, the Ergonomics discipline must reflect on its preparedness for tackling problems in these novel systems. This paper engages in this reflection by putting forth a critical commentary on the implication of these changes on the discipline and discusses the utility of our current methods in this new paradigm. A resulting Radical Systems Thinking in Ergonomics Manifesto is put forward - a set of mandates to guide practitioners and researchers in the development of new methods capable of coping with these imminent challenges. From the manifesto are derived a series of capability requirements for future computational modelling approaches in Ergonomics.

Practitioner Summary: The goal of this paper is to inspire the Ergonomics community to pursue further applications involving computational modelling approaches such as Agent-Based Modelling. It presents a manifesto for the future of the discipline, and from this the capabilities that future computational modelling approaches need to possess.

Abbreviations: 1IR: first industrial revolution; 2IR: second industrial revolution; 3IR: third industrial revolution; 4IR: fourth industrial revolution; ABM: agent based model; AI: artificial intelligence; AoF: allocation of function; CPA: cyber physical attack; CPS: cyber-physical system; CWA: cognitive work analysis; DDoS: distributed denial of service; EAST: event analysis of systemic teamwork; FRAM; functional resonance analysis method; HCI: human-computer interaction; HERA: human error and recovery assessment; HET: human error template; HMC: human-machine cooperation; IoT: internet of things; RSTEM: radical systems thinking in ergonomics manifesto; SAI: situated artificial intelligence; STAMP: systems theoretic accident model and processes; TRACEr: technique for the retrospective and predictive analysis of cognitive errors in air traffic control
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1074
Number of pages18
Issue number8
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2020


  • AI
  • Ergonomics
  • IoT
  • computational modelling
  • systems thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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