+Dave Malouf +Dave Gray
Interesting to see the differences in the interpretation of “idiot proof”. IMHO there is a vast difference between the disempowering species of kafkaesque authoritarian and patronizing systems (underlying assumption: “users/customers/citizens are idiots that cannot be trusted at all and need to be micro-managed in every way”) that would fit this definition from my own POV versus empowering elegant simplicity (underlying assumption: “users/customers/citizens are sentient intelligent beings that might lack time or have other priorites”).
An important primary differentiator might be an individual's ability to override choices made by the system or at least work around them (basically an issue of trust and authority granted, which in turn also correlates to individual accountability).
Another one would be the system's potential to cope with situations that have not been anticipated by its makers (→ flexibility, malleability, evolutionary fitness, …).
Besides: taking into account the formulaic nature of “idiot proof” systems, it feels compelling to draw a connection to Gödel's first incompleteness theorem: “Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.”