Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds

Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds

by Greg Milner


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“One of the most mesmerizing and exhilarating, yet alarming modern technology books . . . an extraordinary tale.”—Gillian Tett, Financial TimesOver the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary shared utility: the Global Positioning System. Even as it guides us across town, GPS helps land planes, route mobile calls, anticipate earthquakes, predict weather, locate oil deposits, measure neutrinos, grow our food, and regulate global finance. It is as ubiquitous and essential as another Cold War technology, the Internet. In Pinpoint, Greg Milner takes us on a fascinating tour of a hidden system that touches almost every aspect of our modern life.While GPS has brought us breathtakingly accurate information about our planetary environment and physical space, it has also created new forms of human behavior. We have let it saturate the world’s systems so completely and so quickly that we are just beginning to confront the possible consequences. A single GPS timing flaw, whether accidental or malicious, could bring down the electrical grid, hijack drones, or halt the world financial system. The use, and potential misuse, of GPS data by government and corporations raise disturbing questions about ethics and privacy. GPS may be altering the nature of human cognition—possibly even rearranging the gray matter in our heads.Pinpoint tells the sweeping story of GPS from its conceptual origins as a bomb guidance system to its presence in almost everything we do. Milner examines the different ways humans have understood physical space, delves into the neuroscience of cognitive maps, and questions GPS’s double-edged effect on our culture. A fascinating and original story of the scientific urge toward precision, Pinpoint offers startling insight into how humans understand their place in the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393354362
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 748,551
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Greg Milner is the author of Perfecting Sound Forever, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Slate, Village Voice, Salon, Spin, and Rolling Stone. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Whisper from Space xiii

Part I Calculating Route

1 Tupaia Goes Home 3

2 The When and the Where 24

3 Global Reach, Global Power 46

4 Ranging the Perfect Beet 73

Part II You Have Arrived

5 Death by GPS 111

6 The Hornet's Nest 138

7 Better Living Through Tracking 170

8 Return from Mid-Ice 202

9 Tied Together (40.74375° N 73.9835° W) 235

Epilogue: Direction Home 263

Afterword to the Paperback Edition 267

Notes 273

Acknowledgments 295

Index 301

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