How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds

Book - 2016
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Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary shared utility: the Global Positioning System. Even as it guides us across town, GPS helps land planes, route mobile calls, anticipate earthquakes, predict weather, locate oil deposits, measure neutrinos, grow our food, and regulate global finance. It is as ubiquitous and essential as another Cold War technology, the Internet. In Pinpoint, Greg Milner takes us on a fascinating tour of a hidden system that touches almost every aspect of our modern life.

While GPS has brought us breathtakingly accurate information about our planetary environment and physical space, it has also created new forms of human behavior. We have let it saturate the world's systems so completely and so quickly that we are just beginning to confront the possible consequences. A single GPS timing flaw, whether accidental or malicious, could bring down the electrical grid, hijack drones, or halt the world financial system. The use, and potential misuse, of GPS data by government and corporations raise disturbing questions about ethics and privacy. GPS may be altering the nature of human cognition--possibly even rearranging the gray matter in our heads.

Pinpoint tells the sweeping story of GPS from its conceptual origins as a bomb guidance system to its presence in almost everything we do. Milner examines the different ways humans have understood physical space, delves into the neuroscience of cognitive maps, and questions GPS's double-edged effect on our culture. A fascinating and original story of the scientific urge toward precision, Pinpoint offers startling insight into how humans understand their place in the world.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9780393089127
Branch Call Number: 910.285 M636P 2016
Characteristics: xx, 316 pages ; 25 cm


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Aug 03, 2016

The best part of this book are the descriptions of the people and politics that shaped the development and application of GPS. I particularly enjoyed reading about the many different ways that people are using GPS systems, such as to plant, cultivate, and harvest sugar beets. Unfortunately, the absence of any graphics (there are only 2 pictures in the entire book) will frustrate any reader trying to understand the technologies of navigation. Thankfully we have Wikipedia to fill in the gaps.

May 18, 2016

Truly a fascinating read on what should have been that most boring of subjects: navigation! The author provides us with a witches' brew concocted of equal parts technical and human interest - - keen writing on the evolution of GPS. Admit I did not understand his explanation of // etak \\ but did grasp he was conveying how the Polynesian navigators visualized in the precursor to GPS. The reader will learn of the unsung heroes and creators of the GPS process!
[One correction: SRI International is NOT affiliated with Stanford University!]


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