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Google Maps illustrates how people depend too much on technology

The fast-paced evolution and expansion of the Internet is leading to the destruction of critical thinking and general intake and understanding of simple knowledge. With everything a Google search or a click away, memorizing and retaining information is becoming a thing of the past.

Basic knowledge of geography seems to be decreasing with each new innovation on Google Maps. North, south, east and west no longer need to be determined by geological markers, because you can simply type in the address of your desired destination and your smartphone or laptop will do the rest. Or can it?

In England, mishaps due to misguided directions from technological mapping systems have led some travelers hundreds of miles off course. Princess Diana’s niece told her taxi driver to take her to “Stamford Bridge,” a football stadium, but instead she ended up in the village of Stamford Bridge, which was 150 miles in the wrong direction, according to More Intelligent Life, the online version of a lifestyle and culture magazine by the Economist.

Had the driver had a basic knowledge of geography, he would have realized that instead of downtown London, he was driving into a rural area of cornfields and sparse houses.

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Society’s reliance on technology to provide the answer to everything is causing people to lose their common sense. Google Maps and a number of other online services, including Bing Maps, even offer things like indoor maps for large venues like airports or stadiums.

Google released an app last Thursday to building owners who have released their floor plans for indoor mapping. The app will allow Google to collect information about the maps’ accuracy.

“One specific feature that this process should improve is Google’s ability to tell you which floor you are on,” according to Frederic Lardinois of techcrunch.com.

This is a really important feature of this app because obviously buildings don’t have floor numbers next to staircases or elevators.

Are we really so directionally challenged that we need an app to give us directions from an office on the first floor of a building to an office on the third floor? Or have people lost the ability to read the floor number or the room numbers that are posted everywhere?

“The app does sound superfluous for current technology,” said Stephen Biddle, a psychology senior. “Call me old fashioned, but I will stick to learning new cognitive maps rather then let my tech steer me everywhere. My brain’s got a better battery.”

At the UA, with the exception of the Harvill building, finding a classroom is pretty straightforward, and even if you are directionally challenged, it shouldn’t be that hard to ask one of the thousands of students at the school if they know where it is. In eliminating our general lack of direction, more social interaction has been eliminated with this app.

Maybe the money spent making this app would be better put toward offering basic geography and map reading classes at educational institutions.

These innovations in technology are decreasing our mental capacity as well as our observational skills, and should these technological mapping systems fail, we will be incapable of even determining where we are.

— Rebecca Miller is a junior studying photography and journalism. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (7/15)
57 3 5.3%
Total (8/4)
274,434 4,382 1.6%
Includes tests since August 4, 2020
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated July 15, 2021