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CITRIS Research Exchange: Spencer Castro on Human-machine Systems

Research Exchange event banner. Text reads: "Seminar Series Spring 2023."

Talk Title: “The Multitasking Motorist: Interactions With Technology”

Speaker: Spencer Castro, Assistant Professor, Management of Complex Systems, UC Merced

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Abstract: Safety concerning human performance in complex multitask environments relies heavily upon the fundamental psychological principles of limited-capacity attention and top-down mechanisms of attention allocation. To develop a suitable model for distraction and safety with automobiles, Spencer Castro’s team at UC Merced implements converging measures from established physiological, behavioral and subjective proxies for effort in realistic goal-directed settings. In this talk, Castro presents interesting examples of measuring, modeling and attempting to predict effort in the lab, in simulations and in automobiles on the road. The work measures fluctuations in cognitive workload for various manipulations of multitasking, including instruction-induced task priority and intermittent secondary task cues. The results indicate that multiple parameters are necessary to capture variations in processing priority for people and machines, with strong implications for safety. The most robust finding suggests that — contrary to strictly resource-limited theories of attention — strategic allocation of resources can drive performance more than a slowing in the rate of information processing.

Spencer Castro. Speaker Bio: Spencer Castro is an assistant professor in the Department of Management of Complex Systems at the University of California, Merced. His research encompasses workload measurement and modeling in human-machine systems, especially within human-computer interaction, driving, automation, and data visualization and manipulation. He received his B.S. in science, technology and society from Stanford University in 2011, an M.S. in psychology from UC Santa Cruz in 2015, and a Ph.D. in psychology in 2019 from the University of Utah. Castro received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, or GRFP, in 2015 to study mobile device interactions while multitasking. In 2019, he received a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Utah to model real-time cognitive workload fluctuations in applied settings. These settings included conversations while driving and monitoring autonomous aerial vehicles.

About the Series: CITRIS Research Exchange delivers fresh perspectives on information technology and society from distinguished academic, industry and civic leaders. Free and open to the public, these seminars feature leading voices on societal-scale research issues. Presentations take place on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. PT. Have an idea for a great talk? Please feel free to suggest potential speakers for our series.

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