The challenge for our panel was to address the opportunities and challenges of synthetic task environments for basic research on human performance in sociotechnical systems. In doing this, the classical three-body problem from physics is used as a metaphor to illustrate the contrast between dyadic and triadic semiotic models of cognitive systems. In the context of this metaphor, synthetic task environments offer a means to bring some of the additional complexities of triadic semiotic systems under experimental control where converging empirical methods can help to titrate through the additional complexity to distill basic theoretical insights that will potentially have practical value for training and interface design.
Flach, J. M.
(2013). Synthetic Task Environments and the Three Body Problem. 17th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 482-487.