Friday December 6, 2013
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On a foggy night not long ago, two healthy young women, both hikers, were driving a remote curving road on the Atlantic coast near Roque Bluffs, Maine. They simply disappeared.
A few days later a car was dredged up out of the cold North Atlantic with two women still in it. They turned out to be the missing hikers. Other than the damage which might expect to be done to a car which was driven into the ocean, the car appeared to be in perfect condition. There was no sign of a blowout, no evidence of a collision or sideswipe, no skid marks on the road where the accident occurred, no obvious reason for anyone to have driven straight off into the ocean.
The road is not frequented by moose or elk that might have appeared on it, causing the drivers to swerve. There was no ice formed on the road that night. The fog was not the kind of pea soup fog that forces drivers to creep along at two or three miles an hour. Nothing in the background of either woman suggested a dark motive for driving off into the ocean. Their death from drowning was a complete mystery.
Then someone had an idea. Noting that their car was equipped with a modern GPS unit, and that being hikers it was likely that the two women knew and used such units, he took a car with a similar unit, drove the same road the two women had been driving that foggy night, and set the GPS unit for Roque Bluffs.
When he came to the place where the car had gone straight off the curved road into the ocean the GPS unit read, "Your destination is straight ahead."
Could it be? Is it possible?
It's a chilling thought, but could it be that two young women, caught out on a foggy night decided to rely on the GPS unit in their car to guide them over an unfamiliar road to their destination? Could it be that going by what the unit said they left the road and careened into the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean?
Some people think that is what happened. They point out that two accidents which took place in Europe recently happened just that way, including one where a car missed a sharp turn at night and drove straight into a small church, literally demolishing its interior.
Others disagree, saying that although they can cite no other reason for the bizarre accident they do not believe that the women drove straight into the ocean by relying on their GPS unit.
What do you think?
To give you a better handle on this question, I have included a link to a picture of Roque Bluffs, Maine. It may help you to make up your mind. Just click on the Back button to return to the forum and make a comment.
One way or the other, that picture makes you think doesn't it? Is there anything to be learned from all this?
Don't trust machines. Don't be out driving at night in the fog. Maybe the steering locked up like my grandson's car did that took him off the road below Rye.
Maybe they were like the movie Thelma and Louise. I think that was the name of it.
Maybe they raised their hands in the air and went.....YAHOO.
Looking at all the evidence, and taking into account the two very recent GPS prompted accidents in Europe, I'm inclined to think that the person who looked over the accident scene, got into a car, and tested what a GPS unit set for Roque Bluffs would say at the point in the road, hit on the truth. We'll never know with absolute certainty, of course; the two women who could tell died in watery grave, but I think there's a lesson here, and I think Pat hit on it: Don't rely on a machine to do your thinking.
That picture was scary, wasn't it? That snapped of branch, though I am sure it had nothing to do with the accident, sure made me think.
You know what REALLY scares me? Just yesterday, while I still had this accident in mind, I came across an Associated Press article that just made me shake my head because it was advocating taking the control of vehicles out of the hands of humans and putting it under the control of a machine. Read a little of it:
"In some ways, computers make ideal drivers: They don't drink and then climb behind the wheel. They don't do drugs, get distracted, fall asleep, run red lights or tailgate. And their reaction times are quicker."
"They do such a good job, in fact, that a new study says self-driving cars and trucks hold the potential to transform driving by eliminating the majority of traffic deaths, significantly reducing congestion and providing tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits."
Can you believe that?
A bunch of crap.
People make the equipment that does all of it. Look at how many vehicles are recalled every year. I don't want machines controlling my driving.
Neither do I, Pat. If each of us had a crash every time our computers had one the roads would be two hundred feet deep in wrecked cars.
Not only that; think of the things you hate about some of the programs that you have to put up with. My newest Mac now has some many things on it that some bongo-brained programmer thought were good ideas that I would like to take it outside and heave it into the creek. Gone are things that make this older machine ("Older" Hah! It's four years newer than my 2002 Tracker!) so easy to use. Just look at this list:
• When I go to resize a window, I can only narrow it down to about five inches wide, no narrower than that. Why?
• There is no "Save as" command in the File Menu, a command that I use at least six to eight times every day. Why?
• There is no command that allows me to hide the margins on a file I am typing so that it takes up less room on the screen, leaving more room to put something else up beside it, like an open browser so I can research a question without having to change programs. Why?
• There are no scroll bars on the side of files. Why?
Ah, well! Why go on? I could list 25 or 30 things, but why bother you with them? The point is, why the hell don't programmers leave things alone? Want to add something? Fine, add it. If I want to use it I will. But take away standard features? Why? What for? If people are using them why would you feel that you know so much, and are so perfect in all your choices, that everyone has to be the same as you?
And we are supposed to trust our cars to people who think like that?
Tell you what, here are some headlines the world will see when people are foolish enough to trust computers.
70,000 DIE AS POWER LOST ON UPSTATE FREEWAYS!
A power failure of the entire grid supporting North-South Arizona speedways repeated last year's Night of Horror in Michigan, once again turning night into nightmare as vehicle after vehicle smashed into the already enormous pile-ups on each side of hundred foot high exit ramps, crushing them and the trapped passengers inside them. People screamed for help as...
TRAIN HAMBURGERS TRAVELERS AT LEVEL CROSSING!
One by one, the failed relay at the I-40N level crossing fed the line of waiting Autocars under the wheels of the thundering 300 mph No-Stop Limited as screaming passengers fought to open automatically sealed doors and....
BRIDGE STAYS OPEN AS VEHICLES POUR INTO RIVER FOR 20 MINUTES!
Eying an estimated pile-up of 2,700 Autocars extending above the 200 foot deep waters of the Colorado River, Senior Programmer Ari Gupel protested his arrest. "How can I be responsible for this?" he asked as police handcuffed him and took him away under the recently passed Digital Responsibility Bill. "Only an act of God could cause the lift section to read closed when it was actually...."
UNEXPECTED BRAKING KILLS THOUSANDS!
For as yet unexplained reasons, the entire Strawberry segment of the Payson-Senora I-87N unexpectedly set brakes to "Emergency-Stop" on more than 300 vehicles, slamming passengers watching the Stop and Go Comedy Hour into piles of screaming humanity jammed into their slender torpedo-shaped forward sections. "All I could see on that down-slope was bloody sausages," said eye-witness Pat Dallran, who was walking her dog. "I never ran so fast in all my life as I did as blood sprayed out of the air vents. Just look at my poor dog. It looks like a...."
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