The theme for this year’s symposium, The Airspace as a Cognitive System, stimulates the questions; what is a Cognitive System and in what sense can we characterize the airspace as a cognitive system? I discuss these questions by reviewing ideas promoted in discussions of distributed cognition. I also contrast the concept of distributed with the similar concepts of shared and joint as the are discussed in the literature on cognitive systems, team training and situation awareness. I conclude that the notions of distributed cognition and joint cognitive systems offer considerable leverage for addressing the anticipated design challenges in airspace systems but that we need to avoid the distortions engendered by the pervasive techno-centric emphasis in systems design in favor of a human-centric emphasis that will aid development of robust and effective systems.
(2007). What Is a Cognitive System?. 2007 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 398-402.