Designing for Human-Agent Interaction

  • Michael Lewis


Interacting with a computer requires adopting some metaphor to guide our actions and expectations. Most human-computer interfaces can be classified according to two dominant metaphors: (1) agent and (2) environment. Interactions based on an agent metaphor treat the computer as an intermediary that responds to user requests. In the environment metaphor, a model of the task domain is presented for the user to interact with directly. The term agent has come to refer to the automation of aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI), such as anticipating commands or autonomously performing actions. Norman's 1984 model of HCI is introduced as reference to organize and evaluate research in human-agent interaction (HAI). A wide variety of heterogeneous research involving HAI is shown to reflect automation of one of the stages of action or evaluation within Norman's model. Improvements in HAI are expected to result from a more heterogeneous use of methods that target multiple stages simultaneously.