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
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?
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.