Understanding and Supporting Dynamic, Distributed Expertise Coordination for Event Response


Task coordination and information sharing are essential processes of teams operating in complex and dynamic settings.  These processes are even more critical in settings where the “fog of deep uncertainty” influences the ability to effectively anticipate, detect, and respond to complex and interconnected events at both systems and “systems of systems” levels of performance.

This presentation discusses important considerations affecting subject matter knowledge, communications effectiveness, and other dimensions of expertise that govern effective task performance in teams ranging from aviation and spaceflight to disaster response, healthcare, and other mission operations contexts.  Despite significant advances in machine learning (ML) and “artificial intelligence” (AI) research, effectively supporting distributed expertise remains a significant challenge for human-human task coordination.  Task coordination in uncertain and evolving settings includes effective processes of dynamic function allocation and distributed autonomy.

The author’s research in this area has investigated multiple aspects of event dynamics and coordination needs for human-systems integration as well as emerging capabilities and challenges for human-AI teaming for a variety of mission operations task demands.  Research on human-human and human-animal teams helps to provide additional insight as to possible avenues for human-AI coordination.

Barrett S. Caldwell, PhD is Professor of Industrial Engineering (and Aeronautics & Astronautics, by courtesy) at Purdue.  He has a PhD (Univ. of California, Davis, 1990) in Social Psychology, and BS degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Humanities (MIT, 1985).   His research team is the Group Performance Environments Research (GROUPER) Laboratory.  GROUPER examines and improves how people get, share, and use information in settings including aviation, critical incident response, healthcare, and spaceflight operations.   Prof. Caldwell has been Director and Principal Investigator of the NASA-funded Indiana Space Grant Consortium since 2002.  He co-organized the National Academy of Engineering US Frontiers of Engineering (FOE) 2008 session on Cognitive Ergonomics, and has participated in multiple other NASEM service efforts.  During 2016-17, Prof. Caldwell was a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, assigned to environment, science, technology and health policy in the Office of Japanese Affairs.  He is a Fellow and Past Secretary-Treasurer of the HFES, and was elected to the IISE Council of Fellows in 2022.