Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Another op-ed piece in the NYT lamenting how “dependence on navigation technology is eroding our cognitive map of the world around us” (“Ignore the GPS. That Ocean Is Not a Road.” – by Greg Milner). It was prompted by – what else – the accident with the hapless American Millennial who decided to “put his faith in the GPS.”And followed its directions for 250 miles out of Reykjavik. One might be tempted to retort that we and our skill set are evolving, as the wheel has. And we are developing new abilities while losing some old ones that are no longer essential for our survival and wellbeing. 

This argument always reminds me of the penguins who once lost their ability to fly but developed new aptitudes needed to adapt to the harsh Antarctic environment. Of course, one could still say that the penguins are doing just fine without that essential bird skill, thank you. Perhaps – until, say, a giant iceberg cuts them off from the ocean, as it happened in 2010 at Cape Denison. The creatures then needed to waddle 60 km to catch fish. Their colony has now shrunk by 150,000 - with the remaining 10,000 penguins apparently facing a dire future.