This paper presents the challenges identified by NESSI for engineering human-centric software and digital services, and recommendations for research and innovation to address those challenges.

Humans have very individual values, personalities and characteristics, and differ in age, gender, ethnicity, culture, language, education, socio-economic status and in many more ways. Moreover, human preferences are changing over time.  It is not well understood how all these human factors and their interrelationship can be addressed in software and digital services.

Designing, developing, deploying and maintaining software-based systems is technically very challenging and many issues remain to be solved. The human-centric issues are often overlooked in the building of such systems. These issues include the critical human factors relating to different aspects of software engineering, such as personality, emotions, gender, age, disability, values and culture, and any other human factors involving customers, designers, developers, testers and end users.

The transformational impact that digitalisation has on humans and society needs to be better understood; the Internet is an ongoing social experiment. Digitalisation is rapidly taking place in Europe, with smart homes, smart transport systems, autonomous cars, industry 4.0/5.0, smart government and smart health care among the drivers. For example, developing the human-centric concept of Industry 5.0 requires a deeper understanding of all the direct and indirect positive and negative effects that the use of advanced digital technologies has on workers. Fundamental research is needed to provide these insights and to extend existing knowledge and models for human-centric software and digital services.

NESSI advocates that software engineering research should evaluate the impact of human-centric issues on software usage and acceptance, requirements engineering, design, testing, project management, and software maintenance and support.

Software engineering will have to ensure that next-generation software systems do not conflict with one or more of the European human values of inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination, causing expectation mismatches and reducing usage, take-up and acceptance of software-driven solutions.

Read the paper here: Software and Human Centricity Position Paper

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