Essays, Analyses and Meditations

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The End of Exploration

  • The generation that is growing up with the GPS is rapidly losing any sense of its surroundings or of the surroundings of the destination, i.e. the ability to map the territory.
  • One doesn't even need to remember the road to the destination, as the GPS will display how to get back home. The entire process of discovery and exploration that has been a pillar of human civilization for thousands of years has suddenly become obsolete and redundant. This is a conceptual revolution comparable with the spread of the printing press.
  • The cellular phone is causing a parallel revolution by making information available anywhere at any time. Humans won't need to remember or write down the information they need when they move to another place: they will simply retrieve it when they need it.
  • The whole experience of traveling will dramatically change. Sports like hiking will become something else altogether.
  • The price that humans will pay is that they will de facto become blind beings that don't know their own territory: they will constantly rely on a device to guide them.
  • This reliance will lead to a complementary phenomenon: the absolute faith in the GPS. People who rely on a GPS to guide them will ignore any human advice. A driver will not turn left no matter how reliable the advice is if the GPS says to turn right. The ignorance of the territory will create absolute faith (of an almost religious kind) in the GPS. The driver will know that the GPS will eventually find "a" route home, and will no longer be interested in finding the "best" route home, which used to be the whole point of asking someone who knows the territory (and how to avoid construction, heavy traffic or a bad pavement or gangs).
  • One can see how religions got started. For a driver who has lost the ability to navigate the GPS is the equivalent of a priest.
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras