Track Talk Th13

What Are We Doing Here? A Human Perspective

Mark Micallef

15:15-16:15 Thursday 13th June

In his book, Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari notes that for most of our evolutionary history, humans lived in small groups as hunter-gatherers. Our brains evolved to handle the challenges and tasks that were essential for survival in that environment, such as finding food, avoiding predators, and maintaining social relationships within a small group. Fast-forward 5000 years and we find that human prosperity now depends largely on the processing and leveraging of data to achieve a competitive edge. Yet evolutionarily speaking, our brains are the same primitive hunter-gatherer brains they were 5000 years ago.

Inspired by this year’s EuroSTAR theme, this talk explores the question of “What are we doing here?” from a human perspective. Building on Isabel Evans’ concept of Testers’ Lived Experience (TX), first defined in her 2020 paper on the subject, we will gradually expand our understanding of the human tester. Who are the people doing the testing? What characteristics, if any, set them apart from other human beings? What afflictions do they suffer? How do they surmount them? What motivates them? Demotivates them? Satiates them? What range of emotions do they experience in their lives as software testers? Who are they outside of work?

Comprised of a mixture of academic research and real-life anecdotes from personal experiences in the industry, in this talk we will take what I hope will be a cathartic journey through the human condition in the context of software testing. I hope that individuals in the audience will see figments of themselves and their contexts in the different stories that we tell. More importantly, I hope that the audience will be able to leave the talk with a deeper understanding of themselves, their lives in software testing, and how they can achieve a better lived experience going forward.