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When Technology Fails
Over the summer we took took a driving trip. Most of it we use the GPS. When we got into the less populated states it often failed. The first time it happened, we were unprepared. It was a bright sunny day, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, suddenly it turned dark and started to storm so we turned the GPS and asked where the next motel was it told us it was over 200 miles away. It got darker and darker it was so dark it was like midnight he'll started to stall so we turned back and went to the nearest city which was only 30 miles behind us there we got a room the next day we started out we found that there was a motel only 5 miles from where we turned around.

Things went fairly well from there, so we figured that either the database for that part of the country was not good or the storm had effected it. In either case, we went on. We drove through Glacier National Park we drove through Mount Rainier and out to Olympia and everything seemed to be going fine.

And then we turned back towards Michigan we went through Oregon the first indications that the database was not quite right was that the GPS showed us about 500 feet off the road. We drove through small cities and it showed no roads other than the one we were on.

The routing was good. The lack of detail and it's showing the map us off the road was amusing. so we went on for a while we even try picking up a new GPS, from a different company. The second GPS had a database that seemed better but had other flaws and it was so annoying we returned it.

As we neared the end of the trip. We looked at the GPS one night and told it that we wanted to go home. It told us that there were over 50 hours of driving time. That would push us beyond what we wanted to drive in the day. So we decided to not make any intermediate stops. That night we took a map and took a look at it said it looks like only 2 to 3 days of driving. The GPS told us to take a turn that would've taken us back out west. We decided to route ourselves using the map. As we drove that day the GPS told us that they were 51 hours of drive time left. As we passed through a small city it suddenly changed and said that there was only 16 hours of drive time left. For awhile it switched between over 40 hours and about 10 hours of driving.

Many of us put our trust in technology. It often works very well. People start to think that the technology is always right. Technology does fail. We need to understand when the it is working and when it was not. It does not matter what type of technology we are talking about. Whether it is something simple, like a GPS, or something that is often more obscure and life-threatening like medical technology. We need to know. We need to think. We need to understand. We need to feel. And we need to make our own decisions. Like us on the trip. When things don't look right, we need to seek an alternate source and decide which is correct. Like with the GPS some of the older methods such as maps yield a better result. One does not preclude the use of the other. When used together you get a better safer and more reliable results.

Often technologists try to make us believe that the old solutions do not work at all. In most cases, like with the GPS, the old methods are the technology that has been used as its foundation. The old paper maps have been digitized and form the foundation of all the GPS navigation systems. Most medications come from traditional herbs that have been used for many centuries. Even some of the most steadfast of these, like aspirin, or derived from the American Indian headache remedy, willow tea.

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