Title: Subsidiarity: How Low Can You Go? With Prof. John Flach.

Host: Prof. dr. ir. David Abbink


As organisations become increasingly networked there is an opportunity to move from hierarchical control organisations toward flatter organisations where decision authority is distributed throughout an organisation. The advantage is that people and automatons that are in direct contact with the situations can quickly adapt to local constraints (without seeking permission from a centralised controller). However, the disadvantage is that there is always the danger that autonomous agents within the organisation will end up working at cross purposes – creating inefficiencies and in some cases leading to catastrophic consequences. Thus, a fundamental design challenge is to balance the power of distributed control against the risks of failed coordination. The challenge is how to get a collection of autonomous agents to behave as a well-coordinated team. In other words, the challenge is how to ‘constrain’ autonomous agents so that autonomy does not lead to instability with respect to achieving common functional goals.

Short Bio:

John Flach, Cognitive Systems Engineer, Mile Two; Emeritus Prof. Wright State University

Short Bio: John Flach received his PhD in human experimental psychology from The Ohio State University in 1984. After more than 30 years teaching and supervising graduate research in universities, he recently joined Mile Two LLC as a senior cognitive systems engineer. John has written extensively about cognitive systems engineering (CSE) and ecological interface design (EID) approaches to human performance and design (including 3 co-authored books, 3 co-edited books, and more than 180 archival publications). After many years of talking and writing about CSE and EID, he welcomes the opportunity to test what he has learned against the challenges of designing practical solutions to contemporary problems in sociotechnical systems.

TBM-Hall A, Building number: 31
Jaffalaan 5 Delft
High Tea buffet open from 14.15

14:30 – 15:30
Delft University of Technology