When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation with New Technologies

When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation with New Technologies

When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation with New Technologies

When Gadgets Betray Us: The Dark Side of Our Infatuation with New Technologies

Excerpt

In the seconds before the Pembroke-Swansea special came barreling down the railroad tracks to crush her car, Paula Ceely sensed something was wrong. Shortly after nightfall, the twenty-year-old college student had gotten out of her car in the pouring rain to open a gate blocking the road ahead. Ceely had used a borrowed TomTom mobile GPS unit to navigate the nearly 150 miles of rural road from Redditch, Worcestershire, in England, to her boyfriend’s parents’ house in Carmarthenshire, in Wales. It was her first visit. Judging by the illuminated GPS display on the dashboard gadget, Ceely was just a few miles shy of her final destination, and the road ahead should have been clear. When Ceely started opening what she thought was a farmer’s access gate, common in rural England, she did not realize there were railroad tracks underfoot until the train, blowing its whistle, slammed into the tiny Renault Clio behind her. “I could feel the air just pass me,” Ceely told the BBC shortly afterward, “and then my car just did a 360 degree turn on the tracks and was knocked to the other side.”

Ceely is not alone. In late 2006 and early 2007, a miniepidemic of mobile-GPS-related mishap stories was making headlines worldwide: A forty-three-year-old man in Bremen, Germany, turned left when instructed and drove his Audi right onto a tramway ; another twentyyear-old woman in England followed her dashboard GPS and drove her . . .

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