Fear the Oso

Since I have a small kid, I know stuff other people don't. Specifically, I know that a surveillance state is forthcoming and that noone will care. Noone that matters that is. Because they all will have learned about it when they are three. So, by 2035, the expectation of privacy will be: None.

There is a classic south american leftist book called "To Read Donald Duck" that explains, from a marxist-theorist point of view, how Donal Duck forges the public conscience. If Dorfman saw one episode of Special Agent Oso he would have an aneurysm. Let me summarise every episode:

  1. Adorable Kid in any country. The show specifically shows what country it is, and the characters have localized features, names and dresses.
  2. Adorable Kid has a problem.
  3. His predicament is filmed by a robot ladybug, which reports via a satellite to an unnamed organization.
  4. The misterious boss called "Mr. Dos" (By the way, the chief of the argentinian secret service is called "Señor Cinco". Just saying!) assigns the mission to one of his "agents", usually our main character, Oso.
  5. Oso uses advanced technology to find Adorable Kid, and with the guidance of his "Paw Pilot" (how dated is that?), teaches Kid the three easy steps to solve his predicament.
  6. Oso learns a valuable lesson for his apparently endless Special Agent training program.

This is wrong at so many levels it's hard to keep track of them, but let's try anyway.

  • There is an unnamed organization that has the resources to know when every kid can't tie his shoes, and send an agent to help.
  • Every ladybug may be a robotic satellite-capable surveillance device.
  • This organization will send agents to get in contact with kids in any country without any adult supervision.
  • They have unlimited resources, including space stations, artificially intelligent bird-robocopters.
  • Their agents are not only good, kind and helpful, they are adorable stuffed animals.

The message is so blunt that it's not even mildly hidden to require marxist analysis, this cartoon says, loud and clear, that unnamed organizations look at everything you do, but it's for your own good, and when those organizations enter your life, it's only to help you and protect you, and in the process, these virtuous groups become even more virtuous.

Having lived in latin america in the 70s and 80s, I can say: bugger, we wished for that to be so! In reality, these things usually hire very few stuffed animals, and quite a bunch of plain old animals.

The constant surveillance is not even thought about, it's just assumed to be there, there is no consideration that kids deserve, need or even have privacy or a privacy expectation, the ladybugs routinely film the kids in their homes or even bedrooms, and send the images to a satellite for automated monitoring. Jeremy Bentham lacked the imagination and technical resources to imagine this, so he had to put his prisoners in a circle, to be watched by mere human guards.

So, what can we do? Probably nothing. I fully expect my kid to grow up with no expectation of privacy, and no concept of doing things outside the purview of a government, officially or unofficially.

Is that evil? Maybe, but it will be their normal. Just like we don't expect to have silence, or private electronic communications unless we take specific measures (you all know that, right?), and we expect all our online actions to be tracked by someone (you do expect that, right?)

My hope is a world of hypocrites, who have a public facade and a secret life. I can only hope my son will become Batman.

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