Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds (Paperback)

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Ever taken a wrong turn following the directions of your GPS? You’ll thoroughly enjoy these thought-provoking insights on how GPS and its associated technologies have changed the way we live and think. With its in-depth descriptions of this highly technical subject – from early Polynesian mariners to U.S. Government disagreements of its value – this book shows how GPS is interwoven in everything we do. You’ll want to re-read this book again and again.

— Karen


Over 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: 9780393354362
ISBN-10: 0393354369
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English