Turn On GPS, Turn Off Brain

from the you-know-what-they-say-about-assuming dept

One of the common reasons given for people to exclude technology from education is a fear that people will come to rely on it too much, and either be lost when it fails, or unable to recognize when it’s giving bad results. Most of the time, this seems rather silly: if a calculator breaks, for instance, it’s not too hard to find another one. But, it looks like some of those fears about humans either unwilling or unable to question the primacy of technology aren’t unwarranted, after a navigation unit sent a British ambulance off course, and the driver didn’t notice until they were 200 miles off course (via Engadget). It’s not as if they were driving on some unmarked road, but rather they traveled roughly half the length of England, driving from London to outside Manchester before thinking that something was amiss on what should have been a 12-mile journey. The ambulance service says that the faulty navigation unit is being fixed. But what’s being done to fix the employees? It’s one thing for a GPS unit to deliver screwy directions; it’s another to be so ignorant or deferential to it so that it takes you 200 miles, and a tour of half a country, to figure it out when you’re supposed to be on a 12-mile trip.

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Comments on “Turn On GPS, Turn Off Brain”

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I.D. says:


seriously, sounds to me like the lad who had been driving wasnt really thinking about saving lives at all,he just happened to be trying to find a nice quiet sekluded, area to share some 1on1 time with his significant other. (TWO HUNDRED miles from anything!) Technologie saves us from blame, an average joe can say his computer fragged and lagged and corruptes his homework and get away with it in just about any situation Joe can encounter. we havent only been hazty to the development of technOological breakthroughs that babysit humans and redefine the meaning and reason to doing onerous tasks to being lazy and getting away with it! i mean come onn, if it wasnt the computers fault it would be our dogs fauklt… hail silicon! and long live the Conmputer! no lonngger will we use the archaeick quote, “welcome to being human” it will be… “DAMN MACCHINE!!” (they should have spellcheck on these forms =))

Tony says:


First off, the solution would be a backup (maybe hand held) GPS system, or to force the drivers to study maps and pass a small exam before driving again. I don’t think this problem is very difficult to fix, and just wish they would have had the foresight to think of it before it caused problems like these.


“if it wasn’t the computers fault, it would be our dogs fault” is a good quote because, it identifies, to me at least, that technology CAN be used as an excuse for laziness, but that in most cases other things would be used for that same excuse if they weren’t around. We live in a relative world – and technology just brings us closer to becoming intelligent enough as a race to realize universal truths. And in the meantime, all other complaints and problems brought on with technology are offset, in a relative manner, by its strengths and solutions.

Therefore, I submit that technology is nothing but good, and should not be considered making the human race idiotic, or any more idiotic than it already was at least. Just my humble opinion, anyways,


be free (user link) says:

Tony - I concur....

There will always be a certain percentage of people who are stupid, prefer shortcuts before making something solid from ground up, or are more prone to gamble with their future by making immature or ill thought out choices in life at large, or just in general. Isn’t it true that there are people who mess up things no matter what they do. So, the bigger question becomes: Are we going to let the morons set the standard of the rest of us? Let’s say there are roughly 5% smart people, 5% stupid people, and the majority is somewhere in the middle = most of us. Would it make sense to let the 5% stupid people set the standard for the 95% that are left. I think No. Peace.

my2cents says:

“First off, the solution would be a backup (maybe hand held) GPS system…”

No, the solution would be to have a competent driver who knows the area he drives in. If the driver can’t realize he’s been driving for well over an hour to reach a destination 12 miles away, he should not be driving for a life critical service company, or at all.

jk says:

Information is the reduction of uncertainity. As new technologies emerge, those with no prior knowledge will or will not have the ability to conceptually understand the prinicples of a new technology, such as GPS. However, there will always be a percentage of the population that will not understand how to use the technology, I would not go so far as to label those people as stupid, smart, or average.

Marko says:

Let's abandon the wheel too!

Intelligence is what separates us from animals. We invent things to make our lives easier. Fire, wheel, calculator, computers, cellphones, emails.

Should we go back and start writing letters instead of emails/sms, use pigeons instead of postal service or may be we should put 1000000 scientists to replace one super computer? JUST BECAUSE WE HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SURVIVE WITHOUT THESE THINGS????

No, we don’t have to. The day those services fail – the world would end.

The only reason I find to do calculations in my head (while having calculator besides me) is to train my brain and avoid parkinson’s disease.

The driver was just plain stupid. We cannot live without stupid people – stupid people are the bricks of any society, while the smart people are its foundation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don’t Brit’s use metric; I thought Americans were the only ones left to use English units.

So with the above statement, he was converting to metric units:
Everyone knows there are 30.5 cm in a foot. So, by the same ratio, there are obviously 30 km in a mile. Therefore he needed to travel (12 x 30 =) 360 km. He just hadn’t gotten far enough…


benji says:


how do you not realize that you traveld 200 miles to no where?…hm…people are becoming to self relient on technological means…dude…good ol’ common sense should deffinately tell you better??…think about 12 miles…200 miles….”hm…i think i may be off..or i could keep driving untill i hit water…or maybe i should keep driving, he could be drowing!!!”

Rob from Oz (profile) says:

Idiot... But also...

I’d guess the (correct) journey involved some time on a motorway anyway. You’re the driver. It is not unreasonable to assume the satnav might try to avoid roadworks and other motorway blockages. (My experiences of regular commuting on the M25 – the world’s largest circular car park – was blockage was almost synonymous with motorway in Britain.) The next thing you know, you’re on the M1, and you’re thinking “I’ve not been this far north before” (don’t laugh, it happens). When do you give up? When do you decide the Satnav is wrong, and there has not been a command from “central” to transfer the patient to Manchester? (BTW, my recollection is that the destination signs on the Motorway say something like “The North” and two or three nearby towns – you could be a few miles down the motorway before you see something that says Manchester.) When do you take it upon yourself to decide that Brentford, Essex is the correct destination and not Brentford, Manchester?

Also, it is the early hours of the morning. It is harder to judge location and direction at night. Who do you call?

I bet they felt stupid, but I think it is perhaps unfair to call them idiots (at least without hearing more of the details.)

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Problem: an over-reliance on ELINT (electronic intelligence) and an under-reliance on HUMINT (human intelligence).

It is ironic that the hiring mechanism also suffers from this malady – with their reliance on CVs (resumes) and their games of “Buzzword Bingo”

It is also ironic that in their quest for greater profits, most large corporations are shedding people and replacing them with machines and outsourced cookie-cutter labor.

Solution: Hire a drivers with brains, commonsense and a good sense of direction.

Like that’s going to happen.

In the meantime, I will continue to give preference to those companies that employ knowledgeable humans, even if it costs a little more.

Dan says:

Faulty GPS

I have the same problem all the time. I use a GPS to direct me to my church, but a bug in the software keeps directing me to a strip bar instead. I’m usually about $200 short when I realize that I’m attending the wrong sacrament.

The other day I was trying to get to the wedding rehearsal of my wife’s best friend. Instead I ended up on a golf course. The damn GPS said that the only way through involved twelve stops. Took me nearly two hours to navigate that course.

The government needs to do something to protect us from faulty GPS devices. Will somebody please think of the children?

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Maybe the Ambo should go and work for M$, then he could have gone via anywhere he liked (either that or HMG should consider mandated closing times in pubs again).

Seriously, the road signs are not all that bad, and to get to Manchester he would either have been cruising around the countryside for a very long time, or would have (more likely) gone up the M1/M62 or M40. Since the M40 leads through Birmingham (B’ham on many road signs), which no-one would go through without noticing un;ess they were seriously drugged, and the M1/M62 (the long way round) goes past Nothhampton, Liester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Huddersfield, which would be hard even for someone this stupid to not notice, I would conjecture that either he decided to follow the instructions with a patient he knew to be safe, just to prove his point, or that he is so stupid he should be fired.

I think the former is more likely, but i would question the wisdom of proving his point like this. THis does remingd me of a time whe at my old school we had a fire drill and in the mUsic block the alarm could not easily be heard owing to the fact that the siren was on the outside of a somewhat soundproof building, and it is unlikly that someone looking out a window would see the evacuation, our teacher told us all to carry on. OT be fair to the alam installers, the volume of the music that we were playing would have got us shot on any other day, but it still got new sirens fitted inside, and the old ones were hard to hear anyway.

PhysicsGuy says:

various responses :)

Everyone knows there are 30.5 cm in a foot. So, by the same ratio, there are obviously 30 km in a mile. Therefore he needed to travel (12 x 30 =) 360 km. He just hadn’t gotten far enough…

what? i seriously hope you’re joking…

No, fortunately, Britain does not use those poncy evil km things.

that’s unfortunate… the metric system is far more logical than the english units of measurements… why oh why do we measure mass in slugs? kgs are far more logical. not to mention the division into groups of thousands (and those initial tens, tenths, hundreds and hundreths but i’m all for getting rid those)

fire is a discovery not an invention.

you’re just not giving humans the credit they deserve ;P

“In order for a person to effectively utilize a piece of equipment, it is essential that the IQ of the former exceed the IQ of the latter.” –Anon.

that’s just retarded… IQ = (mental age*100)/(chronological age) … being stupid to try to be funny, as anon was, is rather unfunny…

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