Homer Simpson is a Glasshole (and getting rid of spies, Snowden/CSEC)

I don’t have Flash, so I haven’t actually been able to watch the episode. But it sounds like the Simpsons’ writers got it right on:

“Homer and all of the feeble-minded power plant employees unsurprisingly become addicted to wearing Oogle Goggles, because the devices give them effortless command of a huge amount of information. But the underlying commentary is about how wearable computers like Google Glass can erode human interactions, especially in person. The characters get so absorbed in information from their devices that they miss things about what’s happening in real life, right in front of them. And people’s vices aren’t cured by wearing Oogle Goggles. Homer, a longtime food addict, is initially grossed out when his Goggles tell him that Krusty Burgers are made of hamster bedding, newspaper inserts, and sand emptied out of bathing suits. But after a moment he shrugs off the factoid and eats his burger.[…]

When it comes to Oogle Goggles, Homer makes Marge angry because he is so obsessed with his new device. He forgets what life is like without them, and goes through withdrawal after she takes them away. Desperate, he goes to Mr. Burns’s office to ask for a new pair and discovers Mr. Burns’s surveillance scheme. But instead of being outraged, he is intrigued by the powerful, all-seeing system and begins spying on Marge as she herself is seduced by the Oogle Goggles.”

The argument for getting rid of intelligence agencies. Other commentators out of the German hacker scene also make this point —
perhaps unsurprising, as you don’t have to look far to find victims of intelligence agency abuses in Germany. (Among other well-known examples, there are a few thousand people in one German state alone who draw a monthly pension for their treatment at the hands of the Stasi.)

His solution? “And now we have to pay the price of not having secret services.”

Maybe workable. Let’s load up journalists with that kind of heavy weaponry and see what happens?

Or does he mean, “fuck, LOVEINT is intolerable, guess we have to let organized crime run wild?”

Because, as someone who knows a little about security, a society without an immune system is not something you want to just drop yourself in to.

Now maybe he’s writing from the hacker underground perspective of “hey, WE’RE organized ‘crime,’ let’s please do let us run wild!” If so, OK, editorial bias, fair.

But, as much as I do think actually taking responsibility for stuff is a better solution than handing it off… most of us, heck, almost all of us are not in any shape or form ready to take on ALL responsibility right now. Any more than we’re prepared to wander out into the wilderness naked and live off the land.

Because governments and grocery stores are kind of close, when you think about it. Both things we’ve created to hand off responsibility to.

The question is therefore, OK. Society appears to have an autoimmune disorder, and not for the first time. Can we fix it? Or can we come up with a way to make the immune system unnecessary?

Where he really misses the point — globalization.

The environmental politics movement gets this one wrong too…

How do you save the planet? Um, regulate people’s behavior.

Well, to achieve large scale change would therefore take large scale regulation — you realize that means saving the planet would require CONTROLLING THE WORLD?

(Is there a secret bunker somewhere, with laser weapons and environmentally-friendly nuclear satellites?

In their defense — there are lots of political movements on all sides of the spectrum that essentially promise adherents, “we’re right, and we’ll put YOU in charge!” Power is one hell of a lure, doubly so when you believe you’re morally right. And no, I’m not saying environmentalists dream of ruling the world, but on some level some of them must recognize what it would take.

But anyway, instead of all that, let’s maybe find a solution that doesn’t require POWER! CONTROL! THE WORLD IS MINE!)

Similar problem with his attack on the concept of nations.

Nationalism has infamous and well publicized downsides, but if it wasn’t for a bit of patriotism — Snowden wouldn’t be able to live reasonably safely in Russia. Nor Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy. Even the US has helped to shelter Chinese dissidents.

The concept of nations is one of the ultimate defenses against tyranny. National sovereignty provides a limit to how far power can spread. Look at what happened in the USSR!

(Also — the EU, though it does good, has been widely criticised even by otherwise pro-globalism commentators in the German hacker scene as highly undemocratic. You think, maybe, that’s because of the degree to which it allows power over so many people? All power corrupts…)

I would put forth the argument that any political entity can be controlled. Even the Internet — just ask the GCHQ and their YouTube psychologsts. (You can make a good argument that, as well as a surveillance state, the Internet is the most effective tool for subtle political and social control ever invented. Those who know more than I are probably nodding their heads vigorously here.)

The larger the entity, the larger the reward (in raw power terms) and therefore the larger the incentive to develop ways to control it.

Therefore, simple economics dictates any scheme along the lines of “One people! One planet! One government!” is a nearly surefire road to a place nobody wants to be.

(Perhaps the ideal is therefore not globalism, or even nationalism, but a sort of personalism. Respecting other people as, you know, people, or whatever.)

http://tante.cc/2014/01/30/intelligence-communitys-behavior-bug/

Snowden leaks say CSEC’s test of a surveillance technology may have broken Canadian law. Question — how legal then is the current implementation of that technology? http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/csec-used-airport-wi-fi-to-track-canadian-travellers-edward-snowden-documents-1.2517881

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/01/27/the_simpsons_parodies_google_glass_it_hits_where_it_hurts.html

On this past Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons, “Specs and the City,” Mr. Burns gives every employee of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant a pair of “Oogle Goggles.” It seems like an unusually generous and savvy gift, but really Mr. Burns just wants to use the devices to watch his employees. You see where this is going.

When Mr. Burns asks Smithers how much his company lost on office supply theft last year, Smithers calculates that it was $7,043. “Yes well,” Mr. Burns replies, “no more of that, thanks to this $26 million surveillance system.”

Homer and all of the feeble-minded power plant employees unsurprisingly become addicted to wearing Oogle Goggles, because the devices give them effortless command of a huge amount of information. But the underlying commentary is about how wearable computers like Google Glass can erode human interactions, especially in person. The characters get so absorbed in information from their devices that they miss things about what’s happening in real life, right in front of them. And people’s vices aren’t cured by wearing Oogle Goggles. Homer, a longtime food addict, is initially grossed out when his Goggles tell him that Krusty Burgers are made of hamster bedding, newspaper inserts, and sand emptied out of bathing suits. But after a moment he shrugs off the factoid and eats his burger.

Throughout The Simpsons, Homer is often depicted as being clueless about using technology. But this innocence regularly allows him to transcend the uses creators have forseen for their technology and get at some new or extreme use. Homer is the everyman so maximally that he uses technology at its logical extreme.

In the December 2000 episode “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes,” for example, Homer gets a website (Homer’s Web Page), loads it with stolen GIFs, has to take it down because of copyright infringement, makes a new Mr. X website where he reveals peoples’ secrets, wins a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting, reveals his identity so he can claim the prize, ruins his ability to collect secrets, makes secrets up including one huge one that turns out to be true, and ends up being abducted and taken to an island for people who “know too much” (a parody of The Prisoner).

Homer is so perpetually innocent about the world that he approaches new technology with virtually no preconceptions. But he isn’t afraid of new devices or intimidated by them, so he ends up using them in reckless and uninhibited ways that allow viewers to explore the extremes of what is best and worst about their societal implications. When it comes to Oogle Goggles, Homer makes Marge angry because he is so obsessed with his new device. He forgets what life is like without them, and goes through withdrawal after she takes them away. Desperate, he goes to Mr. Burns’s office to ask for a new pair and discovers Mr. Burns’s surveillance scheme. But instead of being outraged, he is intrigued by the powerful, all-seeing system and begins spying on Marge as she herself is seduced by the Oogle Goggles.

The point seems to be that as the Internet of things grows, it will be harder and harder for privacy advocates to remain incorruptible. And furthermore, people are already so inured to sharing personal information that they might not even be horrified if they discovered that a person or entity had access to livestreams of everything they were seeing and doing all the time.”

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