“Father of GPS” Bradford Parkinson doesn’t like the way his brainchild is used

When about 40 years ago Bradford Parkinson and hisa team of engineers prepared the first specifications for the GPS system; he made several sketches, which depicted the intended uses of this technology in the future. In one of the sketches created on a plain sheet of paper, Parkinson in 1978 introduced how GPS could be used as a car navigation system. On the other hand, the inventor considered the possibility of using this system in agriculture. There were several such concepts. However, the inventor did not provide one option. And now various companies around the world are using the system to silently track hundreds of millions of people through their smartphones.

“I don’t like it at all. It’s not about the legality or illegality of such use, I just don’t like the idea of ​​permanent control over anyone, ”Parkinson told Forbes after receiving the Queen Elizabeth II award in engineering as one of the creators of GPS.

Many companies around the world use the systemGPS for quiet tracking of our location. For example, a recent journalistic investigation by the New York Times newspaper said that at least 75 companies operating in the United States anonymously collect data on the exact location of about 200 million users through mobile applications. It was indicated that some applications are able to track the location of people with an accuracy of several meters, several thousand times a day.

Bradford Parkinson was the lead engineer of a research group that developed GPS in the late 1970s.

Independent, held in January of this yearan investigation by journalists from the Motherboard portal revealed that bail-up companies even buy user data from local mobile operators AT & T, T-Mobile Sprint to track down those accused of crimes.

One of the original sketches depicting the concept of using GPS, created by Bradford Parkinson in 1978

In the late 70s, Parkinson played a very important role in the development and testing of a global positioning system, which is widely used today, so he is often called the “father of GPS”.

A system developed in collaboration with threeother engineers - James Spilker, Hugo Fruhauf and Richard Schwartz - use a sit down of 24 satellites that are synchronized with ground stations and receivers. Observation stations are required to determine and control the parameters of the orbits, calculate ballistic characteristics, adjust deviations from the trajectories of motion, as well as control the equipment on the spacecraft boron. The signal receiver measures the propagation delay from the satellite to the receiver. From the received signal, the receiver receives data on the location of the satellite. To determine the distance from the satellite to the receiver, the signal delay is multiplied by the speed of light. GPS requires data from at least 4 satellites. The signals from them allow us to obtain data on the latitude and longitude, the fourth satellite gives information about the height of the object above the surface. The obtained values ​​can be reduced to a system of equations, from which you can find the user coordinate with an accuracy of 2 meters.

Of course, GPS was originally designed asmilitary technology, which opens up the possibility of more accurately directing ballistic missiles, equipping aircraft with more accurate navigation equipment, as well as obtaining precise coordinates on the terrain of their troops and enemy troops to adjust artillery fire. However, very soon this system began to be used in the civil sphere.

For example, the organizers of this monthQueen Elizabeth II's engineering prizes noted that GPS has made it possible to simplify humanitarian support missions in various conflict zones, is an indispensable tool in so-called precision agriculture, and also just helps people get from point A to point B without using ordinary maps.

As it turned out, the latter among other thingsbothers Bradford Parkinson himself. Speaking at the event, he noted that the global positioning system was the victim of its own success. Firstly, people have forgotten how to use ordinary cards, and secondly, various failures in the system can lead to disastrous consequences.

According to Parkinson, the scope of GPS forThe past 50 years has expanded to an incredible scale, and sometimes the methods of its operation have been amazing even for its creators. In addition to navigation assistance for cars and trucks, airplanes and ships, this system is also used in the financial sector, which is of concern to the professor.

"You can buy small gadgets, socalled security devices that not only prevent your boss from tracking you when they decide to see their lover, but also block all other GPS systems, ”said Parkinson.

Parkinson’s concern was JohnBrown, a former executive director of BP and one of the chairmen of the Queen Elizabeth II Award Commission in the field of engineering, said that the development of most of the most significant technological solutions throughout history has always been accompanied by unpredictable consequences.

“One of these consequences in this case is the threat to personal life,” Brown commented on Forbes.

Parkinson in turn understands and even inTo some extent, I agree with why companies are trying to justify the use of people location technologies - this way it will be easier to provide “more relevant” advertising to people. But the system developer does not agree with the fact that people themselves usually do not ask about it.

“You must first get my permission for this,” says one of the creators of GPS.

"In 1978, I created about eight conceptsmy vision of using this system. For example, one of them dealt with technology that could be used in [self-driving] cars. There was a number of ideas, the implementation of which I could clearly imagine. Unfortunately, later there were also a lot of concepts that I simply could not imagine. ”

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