Ever since Charlie Chaplin parodied automation in Modern Times, we have known what happens when we ignore the human factor in technology, but we continue to produce dangerous and unusable devices.
Dr Vicente, a professor of human factors engineering, claims that we need to define technology in much broader terms than we usually do in order to avoid a "Cyclopean fixation on either mechanistic or humanistic world views." We need, in fact, to consider the entire legal, psychological, organizational and political environment in which technology is embedded. The author calls this approach Human-tech.
Consider that one of the reasons that hospitals continue to kill patients, even after badly designed equipment is identified, is that medical personnel dare not openly admit error, because of the severe career and legal consequences. This type of problem goes beyond traditional technical design issues of usability or ergonomics.
Ultimately, Dr Vicente is optimistic that we can and will resolve these problems. He offers the commercial airline industry as an example. In 2001, despite the horrendous murders on September 11th, the total number of major airline crashes was fewer than in any year since World War II. What the aviation industry did for commercial flights, we can do for our healthcare system, airport security, or anything we want to turn our hand to.