GPS – Son of HAL?

It was 5.10pm and we packed our gear and suitcases into the car for a quick get away to head back to Robina, Queensland, which was about an hour’s drive away.

No such luck.

The peak hour traffic in Brisbane slowed us down to a snails pace, probably slower because I’m sure I saw a snail overtake us.

Anyway, the last thing Sue and I wanted was to be wedged in bumper to bumper; especially after a great two days of running our Essence of Appreciative Inquiry workshop. I must admit I wasn’t very appreciative of the traffic and the AI assumption ‘what you focus on becomes your reality’ certainly kicked in. My reality was stuck in a traffic jam, driving a manual car – I now have clutch knee. Not happy.

After taking a wrong turn, I blamed the GPS navigation unit of course, I never get lost, I drove the car around a few blocks and discovered the right path to get onto the freeway. We crawled up past the lights, my left knee protesting with all the clutch activity going on. I entered what I thought was Nirvana – the M1 freeway. It too was packed with traffic and as we edged further out of town the traffic eased up and I was able to overtake that snail at last.

We thought we were safe to cruise on home to Robina where we were staying; then it happened.

GPSsmallOur GPS unit morphed into HAL and took over.

In a very pleasant voice it said, ‘turn left in 5oo metres’ so I did. Off the freeway and onto a side road it again said, ‘turn right in 300 metres’. I did that too. Then it said, ‘turn left onto the freeway’.

‘What!’ Well that wasn’t the first word I used in response to GPS, son of HAL but it’s near enough for this post.

Sue and I were stunned. The GPS unit had diverted us of the freeway and back onto it again.

Well, everybody makes a mistake, even a pleasant voice from a GPS unit so I was willing to forgive but not forget (I’m only human afterall).

So we were back on the M1. I calmed down by opening the window so I could feel the wind in my hair (well, the hairs on the back of my head).

After a few minutes of driving down the highway I felt like Peter Fonda in the movie ‘Easy Rider’ – riding his motorbike down the highway free and easy. But that feeling didn’t last for long.

Our friendly GPS unit said, ‘in 300 metres turn left’.

And guess what?

GPS HAL did it to us again.


After recovering a second time, the stupid thing did it for the third time.

Yes, three times we were diverted and guided back to the freeway. We didn’t know the area, it was the first time for me in Brisbane and I had no choice but to trust GPS HAL. Besides there was no road map in the car so we were completely at the mercy of this pleasant voice that clearly had no idea where we wanted to go.

After all that drama and frustration – steam coming out of my ears and shaking my fist in the air – the unit  behaved and we eventually got to our destination – two hours later.

Next time GPS HAL, you will be programmed to justify your decisions otherwise you’ll go for a trip out the car window.

Footnote: HAL – the computer from the movie ‘2001′  that took over the space craft.

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