22 September 2023

Don't Listen to the Voices

Whether they are in your head, or coming out of the dashboard, or your favorite mapping app, either. Don't trust them. Google sued for negligence after man drove off collapsed bridge while following map directions - ABC News

People need to understand the limits of technology.

This isn't a new problem. Here is a story from 2011, about people dying in Death Valley due to GPS directions. The GPS: A Fatally Misleading Travel Companion

Here's a similar story from California, in 2021. Man spends seven days stranded after his GPS directed him to an unplowed mountain pass

“The GPS doesn’t know if there’s six feet of snow on a road or if the road is clear and passable,” Sierra County Sheriff Mike Fisher told CNN.

People live in cities, and they don't think about parts of the country that are older. There are 2 signs within about 10 miles or so of where I sit that basically say, "I don't care what your GPS says, this is not a road." There were 3 signs, but one of the places where people were convinced they could drive did some landscaping to make it impossible, even for determined off-road travelers. One of the 2 signs is in front of a place where a bridge collapsed decades ago.

What Google and the other GPS companies did was to take every map they could find of an area and dump it into their systems. They didn't look to see that those maps hadn't been updated in 50 years, and since this is flyover country, the people who work at Google couldn't be bothered try and fix it. As in the case detailed here.

Philip Paxson, a medical device salesman and father of two, drowned Sept. 30, 2022, after his Jeep Gladiator plunged into Snow Creek in Hickory, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Wake County Superior Court. Paxson was driving home from his daughter’s ninth birthday party through an unfamiliar neighborhood when Google Maps allegedly directed him to cross a bridge that had collapsed nine years prior and was never repaired.

Even though people submitted edits to Google, to have the bridge removed, that too was in flyover country, and so Google employees couldn't be bothered to update the system. The system that is probably going to guide some brand of self-driving cars.

Don't place faith in systems that much. They are only as good as the people supporting them.

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