Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Are We Getting Overly Reliant on GPS-intensive Systems? (ieee.org)
18 points by RiderOfGiraffes 2280 days ago | hide | past | web | 14 comments | favorite



The Economist had an interesting story on GPS jammers. Apparently truck drivers use them so their employers can't track their movements, but they mess up anything nearby.

http://www.economist.com/node/18304246


Hmm dude, I think we're over-reliant on freekin' being connected all the time. GPS may fail once every X monts/days/whetever. Whatever the fail likelihood of GPS actually is, the likelihood of not being connected to the internet at any given location is far greater, yet we depend on it more and more.


Someone else submitted this, but now it's dead. I did put a comment pointing to the earlier, related article, and I hope they didn't delete this link because of that.

If so, you appear to have mis-understood my intention - sorry if I didn't make myself sufficiently clear.

Here's the comment I made: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2386292

Here's the earlier, related submission: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2380668


I've been asking a similar question that people often don't like to consider- Are we getting overly reliant on the Internet?


You could also ask "Are we getting overly reliant on technology"?

But the original question about GPS is already interesting. The GPS network is getting pretty old. What if a few satellites fail? Replacing them will take a while, won't it?


Technology is technology. The cotton gin is technology. The tomahawk is technology. I don't think that's the right question to ask.

We get into trouble when people conflate the Internet with technology. The Internet is is just ONE new development of tech, the way television was, or electricity, or woven textiles. It's not the end all, be all, and there is probably <0.01% of people in this world thinking about what happens when the Internet gets replaced by something else - or more to the point, what the opportunity cost is of spending so much time and effort on the Internet when there might be something better just around the corner.


With technology I meant "electronic technology". One big solar flare, and all our devices break down due to EM. I'm not so much worried about it, but it's still an interesting question what would happen to human civilization.

I'm not sure what you mean about the internet being "replaced". Unless we find an fundamentally different information unit to transfer (qubits?), the international packet-switched network is pretty much it.

Sure, protocols might change, mediums might change, formats might change, the scope could change from Earth to to the solar system, heck we might call it some other name and start sending direct neural impulses over it, but when is it "replaced"?

Hey, be optimistic, we're still using television, electricity and woven textiles :)


>With technology I meant "electronic technology". One big solar flare, and all our devices break down due to EM. I'm not so much worried about it, but it's still an interesting question what would happen to human civilization.

In that case I agree and it's an interesting question for sure.

>I'm not sure what you mean about the internet being "replaced". Unless we find an fundamentally different information unit to transfer (qubits?), the international packet-switched network is pretty much it.

See that's the attitude I'm talking about; so many people aren't willing to consider the possibility that there's a better way. "Replaced" was the wrong word to use- TV or the internet won't ever be replaced, but something else will come along that will divert some or all of our attention away from it.


The satellites are (somewhat) regularly replaced. There was a funding scare in 2009, but as far as I know, we're not at risk of losing any satellites and creating a hole in the constellation.


It's encouraging that a number of other systems are being developed (EU, India, Russia, China). What is slightly discouraging is the time and delays it takes for them to launch.

Original date for the EU's Galileo was 2010. Now, it's going to be delayed until at least 2014. That much more time during which we're still dependent on GPS.


Why do you find this encouraging? For the average consumer, these other systems will have zero impact. The cell phones, handheld, and in car navigation systems available to them will probably still use GPS.

Given the cost of launching and maintaining these systems, I think the average consumer would be better off with a single standard rather than competing systems.


"I think the average consumer would be better off with a single standard rather than competing systems."

The history of technology so far makes it clear that competing standards lead to innovation and improvement; furthermore, purity of systems is weakness - one exploit, one flaw, is effective in 100% of cases.


The GPS system may be an exception to the purity argument.

The only GPS degredations that I'm aware of were intentional.

The US military is heavily dependent on the GPS system for everything from weapons delivery to route finding to station keeping, to .... The system is probably one of the most fault tolerant and well maintained systems in existence today.


"The only GPS degredations that I'm aware of were intentional."

Yes, it has to be intentionally spoofed or jammed. However, there are bad people in the world who intentionally do bad things. This can be done with surprisingly little knowledge and ability, and such devices are commercially available. The GPS system is fine; the problem is that anyone can flick a switch and mess with it. The US military does not have some kind of magic device to stop that happening.

"The GPS system may be an exception to the purity argument."

It is very definitely not. With one device I can mess with everyone's nav system, if everyone uses GPS. If there was a mix of systems being used; GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, the forthcoming COMPASS, the regional Beidou and other such regional systems, LORAN and eLORAN ground-based systems, inertial navigation systems (Which aren't brilliant but are getting better) and various other options, I will have a much, much harder time of messing with everyone's navigation.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: