Prefering to rank the next to high score

I remember a guy in college who just by looking at him you could see he was ahead of the electronics learning curve. Sophomore year he disappeared from campus to complete a project for the Navy. It turns out in high school he’d taught himself an obscure programming language, which happened also to have military applications. The Navy requisitioned the teenager for want of sufficient specialists.

I thought about that classmate today as I watched a precocious gamer blaze through Galaxy Mario. Every household member has a player ID, and for each game a unique folder. And the console connects to the internet. In a couple years he’ll be playing serious first-person-shooters against others online. Who knows when we’ll get a call.

We think about our privacy when we consider that Google and Internet Explorer are logging our activities online. We worry about crackers getting our access codes and credit card numbers. Does it occur to us that our aptitude might too be of interest to others? We know military recruiters are looking at many signs that our children might be ripe for their pitch. Whether troubled, antisocial, low grades, dim prospects, these are easily discerned from school records. Imagine such information enhanced by cable TV or internet records. We think in terms of privacy rights, about protections from revealing our weaknesses and secrets. What about our strengths?

What of a government or military wishing to requisition our unwitting collaboration? What of an intelligence department holding all the marbles, in a position to make an offer we can’t refuse?

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