Bad Directions

by on January 4, 2008 · 0 comments

People will believe anything a GPS tells them:

Bo Bai, a computer technician from Sunnyvale who said he was merely trusting his car’s global positioning system when he steered onto the tracks, was cited for obstructing a railroad crossing, officials said this afternoon.

“As the car is driving over the tracks, the GPS system tells him to turn right, and he turns right onto the railroad tracks,” said Brucker. “That’s how it happened.”

Brucker added, “He tried to stop the train by waving his arms, which apparently was not totally effective in slowing the train.”

Among the GPS-gullible, I include myself. Especially in unknown territories, I’ll try whatever the GPS tells me, that blanket warning and disclaimer at its startup notwithstanding. This seems to be a field ripe for litigation.

Credulity also opens opportunities for hacks, and that’s just what’s under development in Italy, it seems:

Two Italian hackers have figured out how to send fake traffic information to navigation systems that use a data feature of FM radio for real-time traffic information. Using cheap, off-the-shelf hardware, they can broadcast traffic data that will be picked up by cars in about a one-mile radius, the hackers said during a presentation at the CanSecWest event here.

“We can create queues, bad weather, full car parks, overcrowded service areas, accidents, roadwork and so on,” Andrea Barisani, chief security engineer at Inverse Path, a security company.

Perhaps a reason to be wary of bootlegged or discount map-data. Or wary of unlikely instructions from any electronic device.

Via Obscure Store, here is “The Office” segment where Michael trusts his GPS too much

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