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Blame Your Mistakes on Technology

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the pebkac-errors dept.

Technology 419

Techdirt has an quick look at how it is becoming much more common for people to blame their mistakes on technology. "There are people driving off cliffs and through flooded roads and taking detours that span half of England, apparently at the behest of their navigation units. Things got so bad in one place that authorities even had to put up "ignore your sat nav" signs. Now, a woman's car got hit by a train, and for some reason, she's blaming a GPS navigation unit."

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Obligatory (5, Funny)

mdboyd (969169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101277)

If your GPS unit told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?

Re:Obligatory (3, Funny)

firpecmox (943183) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101295)

That happened to my friend, and he did. How do you feel now?

Re:Obligatory (5, Funny)

AsmCoder8088 (745645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101297)

That depends. Is the voice of the GPS unit in question female?

no, your unit is possessed! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101655)

Its voice is very dark, sadistic and naughty in nature; Your unit is possessed!

Well there's your problem... (4, Funny)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101737)

Repairman: [pointing to a Good/Evil switch on the back of the doll] Yup, here's your problem. Someone set this thing to ``Evil''.
/simpsons

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101361)

Maybe... [google.com]

Re:Obligatory (1, Informative)

dominious (1077089) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101407)

23. Turn right at Long Wharf 0.1 mi
24. Swim across the Atlantic Ocean 3,462 mi
25. Slight right at E05 0.5 mi

that's why i like google:)

Re:Obligatory (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101601)

It's amusing that they also consider the slowdown that swimming will cause, as they estimate the travel time at 29 days, 7 hours.

Re:Obligatory (1, Troll)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101651)

Although they don't seem to take into account the quite probable delays caused by hypothermia, shark attack, or drowning due the physical impossibility of swimming for a month solid..

Re:Obligatory (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101769)

These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results.

Re:Obligatory (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101543)

Shit! It did? Be right back.

You might not believe it... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101701)

but the answer is yes! [slashdot.org] The cart track there is right on top of the cliff and not at all suitable for a car - although it makes a good walk.

Re:Obligatory (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101731)

Some people would do that [abc.net.au]

Re:Obligatory (1)

Dontgimmiethatlook (1099559) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101773)

If it would get me to my destination faster.

personal responsibility (5, Insightful)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101283)

it's much easier to blame someone/something else than take personal responsibility for your actions. Is this really a surprise to anyone?

Re:personal responsibility (-1, Flamebait)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101429)

Blaming someone or something else is what religion is all about.

Re:personal responsibility (3, Funny)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101459)

I blame slashdot for my inabilty to reply to provide a witty retort to your comment.

Re:personal responsibility (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101579)

I blame slashdot for my inabilty to reply to provide a witty retort to your comment.

I blame slashdot for my inabilty to provide for my family.

Re:personal responsibility (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101475)

R2D2 made me fat and lazy.

Re:personal responsibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101521)

Exactly. To quote the article :

When In Doubt, Blame It On...a woman. She says...she..is..to blame.

Re:personal responsibility (1)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101555)

nope, not really

they are just idiots... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101285)

... if you don't know how to drive, get the fuck off the road.

Go right ahead and blame the technology! (4, Funny)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101287)

Now, a woman's car got hit by a train, and for some reason, she's blaming a GPS navigation unit.
I agree cuz these things should really include a breathalyser as well.

Re:Go right ahead and blame the technology! (1)

governorx (524152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101495)

Blind idiots shouldn't be driving anyway. Sober or not.

Re:Go right ahead and blame the technology! (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101625)

actually, I think he meant the GPS unit should have a breathalizer

Re:Go right ahead and blame the technology! (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101669)

Blind idiots shouldn't be driving anyway. Sober or not.
case dismissed.
Idiots don't need GPS.

Common Sense (5, Insightful)

ATAMAH (578546) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101291)

Technology is a supplement, it is not meant to replace common sense.

Re:Common Sense (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101383)

Really? It seems that in the vicinity of a computer, common sense takes a break for a cigarette. Or how do you explain why people fall for scams and "click this now or something horrible happens" virus/trojan/worm mails?

Re:Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101685)

Fear that something horrible might happen? If you spoof a car's "check engine" light, you'd have little trouble getting people to think there's something wrong with their engine.

Re:Common Sense (1)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101473)

This is nothing new. I remember my first calculator didn't understand the order of operations. If you blindly trusted your answers you might find yourself crashing rockets if you weren't careful =P

Re:Common Sense (1)

robgig1088 (1043362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101529)

Didn't the first calculators use Polish Postfix Notation, making grouping symbols unnecessary?

Re:Common Sense (4, Insightful)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101551)

Technology cannot replace something which was never there in the first place.

Re:Common Sense (0)

Ignis Flatus (689403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101805)

Damn you! You stole my line!

I seriously don't get it, though. I don't think a navigation system is something I'd ever get in an automobile. You don't learn by being told what to do, you learn by doing it yourself, and the journey itself is at least as fun as the destination. But I'm a person that has a hard time getting truly lost, even in a forest, so maybe my attitude is a bit elitist.

Blame (2, Insightful)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101293)

I got a message with a series of points criticizing Americans for blaming companies and institutions rather than themselves. I partly agree with the underlying message that people should take charge and solve problems, rather than just cast blame on others. However, the points go too far--they whitewash companies and institutions that really did something wrong. Let's see if I understand how America works lately . . . If a woman burns her thighs on the hot coffee she was holding in her lap while driving, she blames the restaurant. Ordinarily, when you spill coffee on yourself, it hurts but doesn't really injure you. MacDonalds was serving coffee too hot, and as a result, a woman who spilled her coffee was seriously burned. It turns out MacDonalds had been warned about this before--they knew they were doing something dangerous. That's why she won that lawsuit. If your teen-age son kills himself, you blame the rock 'n' roll music or musician he liked. Actually, we don't. A few people tried to blame the musicians, but they did not win those cases. If you smoke three packs a day for 40 years and die of lung cancer, your family blames the tobacco company. If the tobacco company got you addicted when you were a child, because they lied and said smoking was safe when they already knew it was dangerous, it has a lot to answer for. If your daughter gets pregnant by the football captain you blame the school for poor sex education. A responsible teacher would have taught her effective birth control techniques as well as pleasurable sex techniques. If your neighbor crashes into a tree while driving home drunk, you blame the bartender. Bartenders are not supposed to serve alcohol to people who are intoxicated, but they face the temptation to do so anyway in order to sell more booze. If your cousin gets AIDS because the needle he used to shoot up with heroin was dirty, you blame the government for not providing clean ones. Actually other people tried to provide clean needles, specifically to prevent the spread of AIDS, and we blame the government for stopping them. If your grandchildren are brats without manners, you blame television. I suspect the real culprit is the economic system that is set up so that parents can't spend much time with their children--so they use TV to keep the kids distracted. However, some present evidence that the introduction of TV in a society has an effect on the way children generally behave. If your friend is shot by a deranged madman, you blame the gun manufacturer. This goes too far, but there is a core of good sense in it. Nowadays there are things gun maufacturers can do to make it hard for anyone other than the owner to use the gun. And if a crazed person breaks into the cockpit and tries to kill the pilots at 35,000 feet, and the passengers kill him instead, the mother of the deceased blames the airline. This, if it happened, is the only one I won't try to defend. I must have lived too long to understand the world as it is. So if I die while my old, wrinkled ^*%#$* is parked in front of this computer, I want you to blame Bill Gates, OK?

Re:Blame (4, Funny)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101301)

At least if you copy and paste flame material be sure to select "Plain Text" from the scroll down box. That way you get nice paragraphs :D

The trouble with your argument is (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101357)

that you expect that people will be honest. They won't. period.

No matter what the laws are, people will attempt to circumvent them, litigate for whatever they can get. This is how it works. The woman that won against McD's won because the court sided with her. The rest of us know that hot coffee is hot coffee. The real problem is that the law will allow such unless specifically forbidden to do so. This not only allows for absurd law suits, it allows for freedom of speech and the other liberties that we in the US enjoy. The judge should have ignored her and thrown it out, but that is another story.

Re:The trouble with your argument is (4, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101487)

The woman that won against mcdonalds suffered severe burns (more than you'd get from normal coffee) and sued for medical costs (they'd settled hundreds of times for the same issue). The jury fined them one day's coffee sales, as a symbolic way of punishing mcdonalds. This about was later reduced by the judge. All told, this isn't a frivolous suit.

Re:The trouble with your argument is (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101673)

Sorry, but putting a steaming mug of coffee between your thighs in a moving car is just plain and simply dumb. No matter how hot the coffee, not matter how severe the burns. It is dumb. You simply don't do that if you are a sane person. The least thing that will surely happen is that you get coffee stains on your clothing. Because liquids follow drag and thus are prone to exiting their container if said container is not sealed. And even with those cute plastic caps on top, McD cups are NOT what constitutes a sealed container.

Now, the law (unfortunately) does not punish stupidity. But I'm firmly against getting even worse and rewarding it. It was dumb to put the mug there, so you got the coffee on you. That the coffee was searing hot must have been obvious to her, because I do know the McD cups well, it's not really known for its perfect insulating properties. In other words, if you fill something HOT into them, you KNOW instantly when you TOUCH them!

When you now go ahead and put that so effing HOT cup right between your legs and hit the throttle, you act just plain and simply stupidly. Even if you don't have the foggiest idea what coffee is, you should know, at least that's what I expect from people who want to operate potentially lethal machines like a car, that a liquid in a not sealed container which is frigging HOT will follow the laws of gravity and drag. And thus WILL spill when exposed to relevant force.

Re:Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101409)

"A responsible teacher would have taught her effective birth control techniques

!as well as pleasurable sex techniques.!"

Whaaaa?

McDonalds vs. Starbucks (1)

Saint V Flux (915378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101419)

"MacDonalds was serving coffee too hot, and as a result, a woman who spilled her coffee was seriously burned."

Actually that's not true. McDonald's coffee (at least in that incident) was about 20 degrees F cooler than what Starbucks serves. I don't think I need to mention the lack of lawsuits against Starbucks, despite their coffee being hotter.

Re:Blame (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101423)

IstartedtoreadthisbutIfoundthatitwasjustnotworthth eefforttounderstandwhatitwasthatyouweretryingtosay Paragraphswereinventedforareasonthatbeingtoallowpa rtsofthetexttobelogicallygroupedtogetherthussepara tingouttheproseandmakingiteasiertounderstandtheaut horIreallyrecommendthatyoutakethismessagetoheartot herwisepeoplejustwontbeabletounderstandwhatitisyou aretryingtosay

Actually, it was really hard to type that [grin] my fingers automatically put spaces in at the end of words!

Simon

Re:Blame (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101683)

So do mine, but additionally, I have the problem that after every dot I almost automatically type "com".com

Re:Blame (1)

giminy (94188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101441)

The problem isn't people. It's the legal system.

For example, in the sex education case from your post, the girl probably tried to sue the football player first. The football player's lawyer came up with a great argument: "How can you prove my client is guilty? You haven't tried this other party (the school) first, and it appears that they're really to blame." This claim casts doubt on the the player's guilt. The trial cannot move forward until this question is examined (i.e. another trial). Only if that trial comes back saying that the school is innocent can the trial for the football player proceed on solid ground.

Same with the gun manufacturer case. If you try the shooter, they'll defend themself with the crime-of-passion argument, and that the real culprit is the manufacturer for not doing enough to prevent crime-of-passion shootings.

The whole innocent-until-proven-guilty thing comes to play. Defendents in a case have a lot of incentive to pass blame on to a bigger entity -- if the case is dismissed, charges cannot be brought against the little guy again (at least, not the same charges). So, in general, during a lawsuit, you have to 'cast the widest net.' Start with the highest guy up on the food chain, and if they can defend themself, try the next choice down the chain. This has the added benefit of maximizing the potential settlement, but honestly this isn't why people do it -- it's just a legal requirement (assuming the defense lawyer(s) involved is/are competent).

I'm sure there's a nice latin term for this sort of passing-the-buck law, someone please share...

Reid

Re:Blame (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101471)

Are you being sarcastic? What sort of moron thinks Colt is responsible for some guy coming home early, finding his wife balling the plumber, and shooting them?

Re:Blame (2, Funny)

kevingolding2001 (590321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101589)

I believe these kinds of morons are called 'judges'.

Re:Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101723)

Mind citing an actual ruling?

Re:Blame (4, Insightful)

rossifer (581396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101469)

Nowadays there are things gun maufacturers [sic] can do to make it hard for anyone other than the owner to use the gun.
Just a few thoughts. All of those "things" that gun makers can add to the gun also make it harder for the owner to use the gun.

Trigger lock? There's a key, somewhere around here... (there's actually a whole host of issues around these keys: five year olds understand locks and keys, so either they're with you or they're available to the kids.) I earnestly hope I don't have to figure out how to silently remove a trigger lock in the dark while an intruder is in the hall between me and my children.

Magic ring that enables the electronic trigger? Hope the battery didn't die (in the ring and/or in the gun), hope the gunpowder residue and the cleaning fluid from the last time I was at the range didn't corrode or short out the circuitry. Hope the electronic components are able to handle the shock of firing the gun as durably as a mechanical trigger (unlikely, but possible).

Personally, I like gun safes and pistol vaults. The pistol vault I like the best is the one with the touch combination that with a little practice, is very simple to get right, even in the dark, even under stress. Still an extra step, but it's a mighty small obstacle to me and a much bigger obstacle to the kids or to a thief (assuming I installed the pistol vault correctly and they can't just take the whole thing).

Back to the point: there's nothing the gun manufacturer can do to the gun to make it harder for someone else to shoot that doesn't also make it less reliable or less available to me. But there are ways for gun owners to responsibly keep firearms, which leads the discussion to where the responsibility really lies: with the gun owner. If a kid takes one of my guns and accidentally kills another kid, I'm going to feel responsible for the tragedy. So I do what I can to minimize the chances of that happening while still keeping responsibility for my own self defense. And IMHO, that's how it should be.

Regards,
Ross

Re:Blame (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101703)

The safety of a gun is not in electronics, it's not in mechanics, it's in its owner. The only key I'll ever want on a gun is on its vault.

Actually I've seen a good safety design lately that requires you to hold the grip fully, i.e. four fingers curling around the pistol have to lie in the usual place to make the gun fire. That's a good safety procedure, and I wonder why no other manufacturer ever had that idea.

First of all, it's foolproof. You take your gun into your hand and it is automatically enabled. No pin to move, no lock to open, just take it and you're ready, while at the same time it can't fire by falling onto the ground or while you clean it.

And kids hands, being smaller, cannot "accidently" press ALL the required places to make the gun ready. If I did only remember the model now...

Re:Blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101605)

I see your reasoning here an I agree that there is logical.

But let's consider the alternative. A woman spills hot coffee in her lap and it is hotter than she expected. It is also logical to say that a above the age of say 5 years old a person has sufficient experience in the hot drinks arena to know that a up of coffee could be very hot, unless she has actually spent her whole life drinking thermostatically regulated beverages in a (probably padded) safe environment. I think we could just say that this was an unfortunate accident brought about by her own carelessness.

The smoking, certainly deceptive marketing practices were evil and those companies must be brought to book. But people give up smoking every day. If someone has been receiving accurate health information on the dangers of smoking for the last 20 years but has made no attempt to quit themselves, then it should be said that the tobacco company does not have 100% blame, even though the berieved family may wish to think so.

If your daughter gets pregnant by the school Football captain, and goes on to claim she didn't know where babies came from. Then never mind the school, as a parent you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself some serious questions. We contract out the education of our children to specialists, but as with managing any contractor the buck stops with us. You may convince a court otherwise but complaining later won't get the job done right. As for teaching pleasurable sex techniques what kind of school system did you go to?

If someone crashes into a tree while driving home why not blame the driver? Ok the bar tender may have broken the rules as well, but he broke the rules with or without the intervention of the tree. The tree thing might bring the case to light but the driver went to the bar in his car knowing that he was going to drink alcohol and drive it away. Further more once you start to reduce people's culpability based on substances you chose to ingest it is a slippery slope. The driver made his desicion the moment he set out in his car that night to get drunk, the consequences could have been many and varied.

I think people mostly agree that individuals and companies should take responsibilty for the consequences of their actions. These discussions are more about where the line should be drawn.

My own instinct is to encourage people to accept that they are really responsible for most of what happens in thier lives, every person has a lot more power ability and influence that they acknowledge and that pushing the blame onto others is a hollow victory which shows a weakness of basic character and is all too often motivated by basic greed.

Yeah, that sounds about right (2, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101299)

I'm guilty of placing my trust in my HP Travel Companion perhaps a bit too much. It hasn't actually led me anywhere bad, but I do find myself paying attention to it instead of road signs. Now, I have gone on incorrect routes because I trust it to warn me of things ahead of time, but when the turn comes, I'm in the wrong lane (freeway splits, for example).

That being said, I still won't ever get directions the old way ever again (unless they build a new city somewhere or something and I don't have the maps for it).

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (4, Interesting)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101339)

The way I usually navigate to places I don't know well is to consult an online map first, which provides good overall context to the route, plan the trip myself, then use the GPS only as a reminder. The only time I would use the GPS by itself is if I don't have a way to get the full context of my route. If you go to Google maps, for instance, and make a plan, then try to do the same on the GPS, you'll see the difference immediately - with the GPS it is nearly impossible to have a good sense of the whole route, so you might not even be able to tell if it sends down some bizarre route. As a pilot in training, I see warnings against relying on the instruments too much all the time. In spite of the fact that a lot of effort has gone into making everything accurate and useful, it is taught that it is critical you have as much awareness of what is going on around you at all times - and this means actually looking out of the airplane to confirm what your instruments are telling you. Relying on the GPS by itself to plan your route is equivalent to flying with your windows blacked out. If your instruments are wrong - and it does happen - you'll never know it, and who knows where you'll end up.

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (1)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101413)

I'm similar in planning my trips, in that I will generally try to keep a paper map of the area with me - but I rely on the GPS for navigation, and fall back to the paper maps if something doesn't seem right.

Generally, I will program the route in my GPS and look it over before I do the drive - that gives me an idea of what I'm doing. Unfortunately, that doesn't give me a full idea of what's going on, as if you don't know the area, you don't know what lane you have to be in at a given time. California is notorious for having the right-most lane turning into an exit lane with little notice - and if traffic is busy, good luck merging out of that lane. It's to the point where I will rarely drive in that lane, unless I really know the area.

The GPS units that I've used (Garmin iQue3600 and Mobile 20) have an annoying flaw - sometimes they're too slow to keep up with what your position is. Thus when it tells you to exit, you've already shot past it, especially if traffic is really flowing on the freeway. Unfortunately, this means that you have to keep an eye on the screen to see what the next turn is, which means taking your attention away from the road.

Despite that (and some of the strange directions it sometimes gives), I'll take a GPS unit over paper maps any day of the week. I'll also take it over reading the printout of the Google Maps directions while I'm driving, which is in itself, problematic.

-- Joe

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101457)

Oh, I haven't actually used the map services directions in years now. The only times they are useful is when you are looking at the map and trying to determine where their line is really going. Often as not though their written directions are confounded by suprise street name changes or minor course corrections which result in three or four lines of 0.0 mile maneuvers that just make the list aggrivating.

What I have personally found useful is to look at those maps, then WRITE the directions I see on the map myself. This serves two purposes: 1) You can refer to your written directions if you get lost and 2) by writing them down, you will increase the chance of retaining the directions in memory while driving. I've yet to get lost doing this.

I do have to say though that some GPS units are quite good. On a recent trip we were travelling out of state and we frequently used the standard nav system in our 2006 Corvette. I don't know who makes it, but it worked flawlessly maneuvering us around town to find gas stations and restruants.

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (2, Insightful)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101425)

I'm not a pilot, but I always heard you're supposed to trust your instruments because your physical intuitions are crap in those environments. And the fact is, flying by instruments with your windows blacked out is not only possible, it's what, in effect, you are doing during storms and nighttime.

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (1)

ChronosWS (706209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101497)

Well, everything works together. There are things you use your instruments for, and things you use the seat of your pants for. Like anything, you have to know when it's appropriate to use an instrument (mechanical or biological), and you have to understand the limitations of that instrument. GPS navigation for many people is still a new instrument, and so the limitations are not yet well understood for them. Fortunately like all technologies this will improve over time. But it's a transition period now. People should not blindly trust these devices just yet, and a prudent person would rarely cede navigational authority to them.

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (1)

beauzo (566782) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101691)

In IMC you're suppose to use *multiple* instruments to determine your current situation. In the event your vacuum pump goes out (without your knowledge--nightmare scenario), you'll need to be able to identify which instruments you have lost. I must say, figuring that out is a very very difficult thing to do, especially when you're inside a cloud and it's pitch black out the window. That's a huge killer in GA (aside from miscalculating fuel requirements).

Furthermore, most modern aircraft still come with a backup VOR despite having the latest GPS package. In fact, I make it a habit to use the second (or backup) VOR to confirm the indication of the primary navigation device.

-Beau

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101779)

Yes, when you're flying instrument flight rules (we'll pretend than non-IFR pilots never push the envelope by flying through the occasional overcast, ahem) you watch the instruments and ignore what you think you're feeling about the plane.

However, you're using more than just one instrument, and one of the aspects of learning instrument flight is learning how to cross check the different instruments in case one or more of them start lying to you (eg if the static pressure port gets plugged it's going to affect instruments like altimeter and airspeed, etc). Another part of learning instruments is learning to fly "partial panel", simulating partial instrument failure (the instructor covers up the dials). It basically comes down to "trust the instruments more than yourself -- but don't trust them completely, check them against each other" (dare I say "trust, but verify").

Re:Yeah, that sounds about right (1)

green1 (322787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101523)

>> placing my trust in my HP Travel Companion perhaps a bit too much
I too have one of those devices and I love it, however I do not trust it to navigate for me, only to provide me some additional information to help me navigate.
as an example, I have yet to find any way to convince it to take the only reasonable route from Calgary to Vancouver, it always goes a minimum of about 4-5 hours out of the way instead of taking the main highway that connects the 2 cities. that's only one of many errors I have found in it's navigation.
I learnt long ago how to read a map, and I carry paper maps, I use the travel companion to plot routes, but I always use my own knowledge of the areas to supplement that, and anytime it tries to route me somewhere that doesn't seem right I always check it on a paper map.
I never trust the device over the actual road in front of me, the people who programmed it aren't there, I am.

Natural Selection (5, Funny)

EonBlueApocalypse (1029220) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101303)

Must be technologies way of thinning the herd.

common (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101311)

This is sometimes common with programming also. I know people who fail to deliver, or deliver software which constantly fails, and they blaim library X or technology Z.

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that ... (2, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101315)

Douglas Adams had talked a lot about technology guiding our life. His posthumous book Salmon of Doubt talks about the intermediate phase between the current world of dumb electronics and the time when we have truly intelligent machines. The brief period when the machines are dumber than the average human, yet the human has too much confidence in the machine to trust his/her own judgment will be really bad.

I'm afraid that is the world of Today. We trust our inanimate companions over humans because they are bereft of intent (and malice). But I suspect people are less likely to change than machines are likely to become more reliable. So ... ++CARRIER ERROR

I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Mr Anderson :)

Common Tech Support Nightmares (5, Informative)

Null537 (772236) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101325)

I work for a company that makes software that is used for navigation, and there are a good amount of tech support calls complaining about how the "program sent us down an unmarked dirt road!" They don't seem to realize that they drove themselves down the dirt road, on the suggestion of a computer. I think we've all seen our GPS's be off by a bit, some people are missing the fact that nothing is perfect, especially not a box with a tiny screen.

Re:Common Tech Support Nightmares (1, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101619)

I work for a company that makes software that is used for navigation, and there are a good amount of tech support calls complaining about how the "program sent us down an unmarked dirt road!" They don't seem to realize that they drove themselves down the dirt road, on the suggestion of a computer.

Right - and the person/company that writes software stupid enough to include such routes bears none of blame? Bovine exhaust. I know it's popular on Slashdot to blame the sheeple - but this isn't a case of using a hair dryer in the shower. It's a case of poorly designed and implemented software. These navigation units market themselves not as providing 'suggestions' but as providing 'directions'. Failing to supply what is advertised is the direct fault of the developer and manufacturer.
 
 

I think we've all seen our GPS's be off by a bit, some people are missing the fact that nothing is perfect, especially not a box with a tiny screen.

This has nothing to do with the GPS being 'off by a bit' - to direct someone down an unmarked dirt road takes a little more than that.

Re:Common Tech Support Nightmares (1)

Columcille (88542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101729)

to direct someone down an unmarked dirt road takes a little more than that.

Maybe I missed something but I didn't see "unmarked" mentioned anywhere. GPS units can't just make up or auto-detect roads, their maps come from other sources and are keyed in by individuals sitting in a desk somewhere, not people looking at the roads. Perhaps they do check some roads, but I very, very much doubt they go and look at every road to see what kind of road it is. If a map gives no indication that a particular road is dirt, the guy in a desk won't have any way to know.

Just more whining? (4, Insightful)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101327)

Our city's newspaper had one of those "call for action" articles last week, in which a local resident was complaining about a ticket he got. Why was he complaining? Because he was pulled up behind a semi truck at a stop light, and went through the light after it turned red, because he couldn't see it (i.e., because he was tailgating the truck). His complaint was that it was all the fault of the traffic light, which was mounted too low. Idiots like this shouldn't be allowed to operate power tools, let alone drive cars.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that we have an innate ability to shift blame. No "technology" is required. (Or rather, maybe blame shifting is a technology.)

Re:Just more whining? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101535)

I completely disagree with your reaction to that event. I have, on numerous occasions, been stuck behind a large truck or SUV with tinted windows and have not been able to see adequately in front of me in order to be able to respond to traffic.

I don't think it is an unreasonable claim that this lady ran a red light accidently because she didn't have time to see/react to it due to obstructed vision.

Obligatory Nick Burns... (4, Funny)

Aerinoch (988588) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101329)

Yeah... It's the e-mail that's stupid, not you, huh?

In Mother Russia Technology Blames You For Mistake (0)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101343)

Da!!

poorly marked railroad crossing (2, Insightful)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101369)

The woman's car got crunched because the rail crossing was so poorly lit and poorly marked that she didn't know she was on train tracks. I do think she's overreacting by swearing of navigation systems, but then I'm sitting at a desk and she nearly got hit by a train. Let some time go by and her head (and others) will clear and that problem with the crossing will be addressed.

Re:poorly marked railroad crossing (1)

Columcille (88542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101733)

and somehow she drove onto the tracks, got out of her car, walked across the tracks, and closed the gate - without ever realizing the tracks were there. I don't know about country tracks (assuming it's outside any city since she thought it was just some farm) in Europe, but it's hard to miss train tracks here. If you walk over some you have to be careful not to trip over them. How can she accidentally walk across tracks and at no point realize what she was walking over?

Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (4, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101375)

I have a friend whose partner was driving down a motorway (equivalent to a freeway) in Britain. Unlike California where lanes are de-facto equivalent, in the UK it's customary to have faster lanes towards the "outside" (more to the right) of the road; she was driving in the fast lane at ~100 mph, as was typical for the road.

Her BMW had an "intelligent" system on-board as well as the GPS, and out of nowhere, it told her to "stop the car". So she did. Quickly. In the fast-lane, on the motorway. Chaos ensued.

She's not unintelligent (though, being blonde, she did get a certain amount of follicle-related humour directed at her), but she did as she was told, in a pressure-situation. She's one of those people who don't interact well with machines or computers. She didn't think it through, she just reacted. In fact there *was* something seriously wrong with the engine, but nothing that would prevent her from pulling onto the hard-shoulder (the emergency lane).

There seems to be a tech-friendly "gene" (though whether it's nature or nurture is up for debate) whereby people either abrogate all responsibilty to the machine, or they treat it as an advisory adjunct to their daily lives. Perhaps it's just the growing pains of a society in the midst of rapid change. Perhaps in a couple of decades, when the holistic neural interface(TM) is commonplace, it'll be us "techno-savvy" yesterday's-(wo)men that people will be laughing and pointing fingers at, Nelson-like. I wonder what it'll feel like, when the boot is on the other foot...

In other words, sure, people do stupid things, but this is an opportunity to educate, not to mock.

Simon.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101427)

She didn't simply react, she submitted to a verbal order. There are plenty of people with the gene for that. Why do you think they're so eager to put the voice boxes on the public spy cams?

"public spy cameras", er not so much... (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101483)

For what it's worth, this "the UK is the CCTV capital of the world" meme is massively overstated. The vast majority (at least 90-odd percent) of the cameras they're talking about are in private hands - they're the CCTV cameras in shops, bars, outside businesses like banks, in ATM's, in tube-tunnels etc. etc.

The rest are mainly traffic cameras, mounted on junctions - I'm not sure if speed-cameras (automated, but only snapshots, not video) are counted in there as well.

There are *some* (I know of some on Oxford St. in London) people-monitoring cameras, and I think the ones on Oxford St. were put in at the behest of the shops along Oxford St. All those shops work closely with the police to prevent theft - it's the only street I know where police literally line the border between the pavement (sidewalk) and the road at xmas-time to keep pedestrians on the pavement. It's a very very busy shopping area.

As a counterpoint, I work in California. Perhaps it's because I'm more aware of cameras than most, but there seem to be just as many traffic-cameras mounted on poles at junctions; there are video cameras on trains and busses; there are video cameras in petrol-stations; also around the offices I work, and even within the corridors at junction points; there are video cameras in tunnels I drive through, and outside buildings like banks; there are video-cameras in ATMs I use; there are video-cameras in bars I go to at night, and in every police-car I've seen.

It doesn't seem so different to me, speaking as someone who lived in London for 15 years and moved to CA.

Simon.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101635)

She didn't simply react, she submitted to a verbal order. There are plenty of people with the gene for that.
Yup, and they're mostly into the D/s lifestyle.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101665)

There are plenty of people with the gene for that.

It's not gene, it's a results of having to take a decision in a stress situation. And the stress was caused by her nto being experienced what "stop the car" might mean and how she should react.

If this happens to her again 3-4 more times, she won't likely stop the car on the middle of the road. Did she "lose a gene"? Because if this is so, you may win a Nobel prize.

Also thew GPS is slightly to blame in this one case (unlike the "jump off the cliff" and "hit by a train" cases). The voice should've said "please pull the car aside, there might be an engine problem". "stop the car" causes stress and is not the right action never mind what.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101465)

There's no gene, there's just a willingness (or unwillingness) to learn how to work with technology.

At many of the places I have worked, a lot of the employees (especially older ones who grew up before personal computers) show no willingness to learn how the system works, they simply memorize the keystrokes or menu combinations for what they need to get done. If there is any deviation, then they will disturb somebody else for the answer. This in itself is not bad, but they just don't learn - after trying to teach somebody how to format a floppy disk three times, you just give up and do it for them.

People tend to like routine - it's comfortable and requires little thought. There's no chance of getting it wrong if you do it the same way every time (provided said way is correct in the first place). Change is threatening.

Quite frankly, I wish that the warning labels would be taken off of everything for a year or so - the problem would certainly straighten itself out in a hurry.

-- Joe

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101711)

It's also difficult to learn how to use later bits of technology if you haven't learned how to use earlier ones. I suspect the GPS issues are one of the most insidious problems.

For example, computers are supposed to be perfect calculating machines. Frequently, they tell you to do something or other, and they won't do anything until you obey. To be suspicious of your GPS, you have to know that computer systems are inherently flawed. Nobody ever trys to sell you one on this, you just have to know it by years of using computers. And to know they're flawed, you have to know what computers are doing under the hood enough to stop blaming yourself every time they break. You also have to be familiar enough with map refresh rates and data collection errors to know that the maps get out of date quickly.

When I buy a comforter, I put it on my bed and assume it will keep me comfortable. I may be vaguely aware of whether it used to be a duck or not, but that's about it. My girlfriend, a costume designer, could probably tell you the thread count, shell and insulating material, expected operating temperature range, cleaning frequency, country of origin, the centry the decorative pattern was popular, the risk of biological contamination, and a whole host of other interesting things that I simply don't care about. I just want to be warm. Most people who interact with technology don't have more than a cursory interest in finding out how it works. They don't want to know the api layers of abstraction for network communications between a host and a shared resource, they just want to print. Drivers just want something that they can plug in next to their dashboard and be told how to drive from point A to point B.

Personally, I think a lot of this would work itself out if computers had a big fat "back" button on the keyboard that worked consistently. Do something wrong in your doc? Hit back a few times. Accidentally broke Windows? Just back up to the last time you did something. If you don't understand something, you'll be afraid of breaking it. If you're afraid of breaking it, you can't comfortably explore it. And if you can't explore something, you can't get the knowledge you need to feel comfortable with it.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101547)

A good friend of mine lost his beautiful 19-year-old daughter recently when a woman driving an SUV was told "turn left here" by her onboard navigation system - so she snapped the wheel to the left, into the girl's driver door, killing her. So, yeah, "Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo" just about covers it. You can write this off as anecdotal if you wish, but that's the way it happened.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101775)

A good friend of mine lost his beautiful 19-year-old daughter recently when a woman driving an SUV was told "turn left here" by her onboard navigation system - so she snapped the wheel to the left, into the girl's driver door, killing her.

I am very sorry to hear that. I ride a bike to and from work and the most dangerours drivers I have seen are people who call up a friend, usually the person they are meeting, to help navigate.

Pilots have had to deal with technology for much longer than drivers. They are taught to fly first, navigate second and communicate third. I think this should now be extended to car drivers.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101725)

Perhaps in a couple of decades, when the holistic neural interface(TM) is commonplace, it'll be us "techno-savvy" yesterday's-(wo)men that people will be laughing and pointing fingers at, Nelson-like.
I see the opposite happening. Right now when one of us geeks has to fix a tech problem for somebody, we're considered a guru. When the rest of the world doesn't know how to walk on their own two feet without their "holistic neural interfaces" an we're the only ones that don't need a Cray to replace our brains just to find out that 2+2=4, we'll go from being guru's straight on up to Buddha...

Well, a nerd can dream anyway, right?

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101739)

In other words, sure, people do stupid things, but this is an opportunity to educate, not to mock.

I think there's room enough for both. :)

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

tshak (173364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101763)

but she did as she was told, in a pressure-situation.

I'm failing to see the "pressure-situation" in your story. It sounds more like your friend is reactionary which is a *very* dangerous trait for someone who's driving on a motorway even at posted speeds let alone 100mph.

Re:Unthinking obedience to the technical gizmo (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101783)

she was driving in the fast lane at ~100 mph, as was typical for the road.

Really? The speed limit on motorways is 70mph and most of the time you are lucky if you can go that fast! Are you sure the computer wasn't acting out of self preservation?

There seems to be a tech-friendly "gene"

I don't see what genetics has to do with this. If she had a passenger in the car and they had suddenly said "stop the car NOW" I bet she would have done the same thing. The difference being that the passenger would have said "no you idiot not here in the fast lane pull over to the hard shoulder" whereas the computer did not have enough data to determine what she had done. That's the "problem" with technology: it makes each of us experience our own stupidity raw and undiluted!

Ok, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101379)

1. Regarding at the poor schmucks who drove through deep water, I can't help feeling that a relatively small road obstruction (even a sign placed in the middle of the road) would have solved the whole problem. Yes, people shouldn't drive into water if they don't know how deep it is, but c'mon, after the first or second time it happened you'd think the town would have gotten on top of it.

2. If you're in the middle of nowhere and your GPS tells you to take a particular road, you're probably going to trust it. If a few minutes later it turns out to be a crappy road that goes up the side of a mountain, that's just bad luck. The article makes it sound like these people were blindly driving off of cliffs.

3. Ok, I have no excuse for the girl who drove onto the train tracks. But she's pretty cute.

Re:Ok, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101439)

Reconcile not with the fear of the snake, but embrace it as your own. Inject it's venom into your veins and implant the seed that gives growth.

Or, learn to use a map.

No but I blame AJAX sites for hacking my comp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101405)

Cause I can't tell when a page is done loading anymore... or what should I do?

New Excuse, old problems... (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101421)

The article makes it sound as if people are suspending their (previously) impeccable judgment when turning on their GPS unit... Certainly that's not the reality. The only thing new here is people blaming the GPS, instead of any other little thing that came to mind, like street lighting, road signs, other cars/pedestrians/animals, etc.

Suggested warning label for gadgets (5, Funny)

theReal-Hp_Sauce (1030010) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101433)

"Attention: This machine has no brain, use your own!"

-hps

Blame it on the rain, blame it on the weatherman.. (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101443)

...whatever you do, don't put the blame on you.

It's actually quite common, and I think it has to do with the way many people are brought up. And it translates into our everyday life and actually corporate life.

In many companies, it does not matter when anything goes wrong, as long as you got someone else to blame. It's funny. Should you happen to work in a large company and something goes wrong, take a close look around you. The only person or people who get(s) very nervous, no matter how trivial or bancrupcy-threatening it is, is the one who can't find anything or anyone to blame but himself.

That's how our education and business system works. It starts with the homework-eating dog and doesn't even end at the report-shredding Xerox. It's never you. It's someone else or, and that's more comfortable, something. Something is better than someone, because something rarely objects.

And technology is better than pets. First of all, the pet excuse gets old. And second, and that's more important, many people don't have the foggiest idea just what computers or gadgets can do. They will readily believe you. Not to mention that some things might have even happened to themselves already. Your report's not ready in time? Sorry, boss, computer BSODed on me, JUST before I could save.

He'll understand. Take my word for it.

Ohhh... I almost forgot lawsuits! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101485)

How could I?

Let's not forget that something is usually made by someone. And this something must have been obviously broken, because you, of course, didn't do anything out of the ordinary. And since companies usually have some money, people get the big dollar-signs into their eyes and sue for some insane amount of money.

Fortunately our courts started to see the difference between faulty products and pure stupidity. And, people, some of the accidents that happen, even gadget-related, ARE purely based on user stupidity. Following a navi system blindly IS pure stupidity. I dunno about driving laws in the US, but here you have to drive "on sight". I.e. no faster than how far you see and could stop your car before the end of your visual range. If you have to expect someone coming your way on your side (for example in a narrow road), you have to drive on "halve sight", i.e. you gotta be able to stop your car in only halve the visual range.

You can't? You drive off a cliff and are dead? Ok, you're guilty. Not your navigation system. Don't go through court, don't cash in fat stacks of cash, but thanks for playing and removing yourself from the gene pool, hopefully before you could propagate.

Re:Blame it on the rain, blame it on the weatherma (1)

GenKreton (884088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101767)

Strangely enough the military tries to demote this attitude by issuing those in training with the phrase "no excuse. {sir/ma'am/sergeant/etc}"

If you reply otherwise, you may often find yourself in a lot more trouble than just accepting the blame for the situation - even if there IS a good reason.

FBI Blames Broken DB for FBI Breaking Laws (-1, Offtopic)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101449)

The FBI has blamed its blatant longterm abuse [techdirt.com] of the Bush privacy-invasion toy "National Security Letters" on its broken database.

Since, as usual, no one at Bush's FBI has suffered after disclosure of this destructive abuse, the excuse will of course multiply in popularity.

Funny how Bush Gang "mistakes" always seem to benefit Bush, though his gang claims it's all just accident and happenstance. Random distributions that always favor Bush must be "miracles".

A friend's daughter... (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101463)

once tripped onto a chair (she was around 3 years old) and hurt her knee.
After crying a lot... she yelled: "TUPID CHAIR!" and kicked the chair.

Somehow by reading the article summary this scene came to my mind.

Better technology than servants! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101477)

These are the same people who used to blame peons. Technology eliminated the peons, so what is left? (Mark Twain wrote a book about the earlier phenom, by the way: Prince and the Pauper)

just fix it - regadless of blame (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101505)

People are getting themselves killed because of the gaps in the accuracy of the maps or in other human interface elements in in the units, that sounds like a pretty serious software/hardware glitch to me.

On a technical standpoint, the GPS makers need to fix their bugs regardless of the legal blame game (in the long run it will result in a better system for all). Whether it tells people to "look up and make sure not to sit on any nearby railroad tracks" or something else I think it is an issue that needs to be resolved. No matter how much warnings you write in the manual or on the system there is a big percentage of people that don't read manuals or just click "ok" without reading the warning screen.

It's all part of Skynet! (2, Funny)

dasunst3r (947970) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101509)

This GPS technology must be one part of Skynet [slashdot.org] ! First the robots are going to exterminate the stupid people, then they're going to make the smart ones sit at the terminal all day long and program them! MUWAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Here's your proof (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101531)

There are people driving off cliffs and through flooded roads and taking detours that span half of England, apparently at the behest of their navigation units. Things got so bad in one place that authorities even had to put up "ignore your sat nav" signs. Now, a woman's car got hit by a train, and for some reason, she's blaming a GPS navigation unit.

Apparently working with a plethora of devices in your car isn't the best way to concentrate on what's right on front of you on the road.

Here's your proof that people shouldn't phone/text/play/drink/eat while driving. And should watch the road and not just the GPS.

GPL manufacturers should be safe, unless they advertised that they help make stupid drivers smarter.

Well It Almost Makes Sense (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101563)

Unlike technology we've been creating for the rest of history, technology since the invention of computers augment our thinking and decision making. Sometimes, it replaces our role as the thinker and decision maker, even when it wasn't intended or designed to be. Then when something goes wrong, it is easy for the person to blame the device instead of taking responsibility for himself. True the GPS unit told you go into the canal but it was you, the driver, who made the decision to let it be the primary decision maker. It's really easy now to ridicule these people but as our devices become smarter and we hand over more and more of our decision making over, there will come a day when it is not so obvious who's fault it is. There will come or we're already at a point when the ability of the computer exceeds our own abilities and we have to let it make most of the decisions. I remember reading about the navy trying out neural networks for recognizing threats in sonar data and it was able to do it better than even humans. In that case, if the computer makes a mistake, who's to blame for that?

my computer made me surf for porn (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19101591)

I don't know how to work this damn thing!

Reliance (1)

kbolino (920292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19101781)

I think one of the reasons that crazy behavior like this happens is that people hold these things--satellite navigation systems (I refuse to call them "GPSes" as I find that term highly inaccurate)--to be inerrant and smarter than people.

I was driving around in Cleveland, an unfamiliar town to me, and I had been for a couple of days. I was relatively comfortable with the area around where I was staying; I knew how to get to nearby stores and how to get on the road home. I ask one of the relatives I'm staying with how to get somewhere, and his directions are real casual, but simple enough. I'm halfway to the destination, when my passenger insists on me pulling over, calling my relatives, asking for the exact address of the location, and typing it into the navigation system for directions. I knew damn well where I was going, and sure enough the relative's directions would've gotten me there sooner and with less hassle.

My point is just that people, especially those who drive with the navigation systems normally (and I don't), become dependent on them to move along any route they haven't completely traveled before. So much so that they'll waste time and gas to do whatever the devices say, and go to the ends of the Earth--so long as the device says they're going in the right direction.
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