Cyberwork is deeply and necessarily cognitive, and not just technological. We see this playing out on a global stage today when clever cyber attacks and deceptive hacks threaten national security and target all sectors. From the perspective of defense, cyberwork is about “getting inside the head” of the attacker to identify the attacker, their goals, and methods. From the perspective of the attacker, weeks and even months of hard thought go into the creation and implementation of attacks, which are designed to influence what the target is and is not seeing or doing. From the perspective of technology, as threats expand their capabilities the technology constantly advances. Scores of powerful computational systems and software tools are available, and new capabilities come along all the time. The mental workload for defenders likewise increases. Cyber defense requires a highly skilled workforce of individuals who are technologically adept but also expert at strategic reasoning continual learning.
We need to insure that we have a robust workforce of human experts and the best possible technologies, but these must be deeply integrated. Human-computer interdependence and collaboration is the focus for a newly-formed group of individuals whose backgrounds span cognitive psychology, human factors, social sciences, and computer sciences. This group calls itself ψber, using the Greek letter ψ, which is the symbol for psychology.
Leading ψber is Dr. Robert R. Hoffman, Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.
ψber proposes a genuine integration of the disciplines, founded on the concept of human-machine interdependence and the concept of work system resilience. Most importantly, ψber researchers will work with cyber practitioners and technologists to insure that technologies are usable, useful, understandable, and learnable.
ψber researchers are not only accomplished cognitive systems engineers but have become conversant in the human factors of cyberwork. ψber will serve as trusted experts who can serve as “honest brokers” with regard to the psychology of cyberwork, human-centered technology design, and the creation of human-machine work systems. ψber will apply results from research in human factors and cognitive engineering to ensure the judicious and realistic integration of Artificial Intelligence and autonomous techniques into cyber defense and offense activities.
ψber is seeking sponsors to support ψber to accomplish its mission. Sponsorship from government, the private sector, and academia is welcome. Support may take many forms, although the immediate need is for seedling funds to support working meetings to develop plans and roadmaps.
Download the white paper here.