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post #130 of Old 02-03-2011
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Doesn't matter if you know how to use the GPS and if you know its limitations. If you have lived a life where you put your trust in technology without thinking twice, then you'll drive off into the desert, trusting your GPS to make it a safe thing for you to do. In fact I would bet that even if the manual said "CAUTION: DO NOT DRIVE OFF INTO THE DESERT RELYING SOLELY ON YOUR GPS UNLESS YOU HAVE WILDERNESS SURVIVAL EXPERIENCE", and even if the woman had read the instructions carefully, she still would have made the decisions she did.

It's the black-box nature of GPS and all sorts of technology. If I can press a button and get a result, then I am unstoppable. I don't see the type of person who puts all their faith in a magical black box to be the type to rely on a sextant for navigation, so statistically it will come up less often. A sextant makes a terrible black box since you must be intimately familiar with its workings in order to use it. A person who is not accustomed to dependence on black-box type devices is more likely to carefully plan their activities, consider contingencies, etc.

So while "Death By GPS" may be a bit sensationalist, the author is really getting at a behavioral trend in humans that is permitted by black box technology. Is it a reason for hardened cruisers to avoid GPS? Probably not. Is it a reason for society in general to think twice about grabbing every gadget they can? I would probably have to agree.

s/v Laelia - 1978 Pearson 365 ketch
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