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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.

reiven / 2012-07-02 17:35:

Hola, no es exactamente una pregunta a este post, pero veo esta entrada en ingles en el blog en español.. es esto correcto? Saludos

Roberto Alsina / 2012-07-02 17:39:

Este post no lo traduje, así que sale en inglés en ambos lados del blog.


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