The 5G revolution
Under the aseptic name of 5G, the new generation of mobile communication was presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February. It is a profound technological transformation with important business, social and geopolitical consequences. The star of the congress was the new Mate X model from Huawei, the main Chinese technology company. Of course, the telephone is not of much use as long as the network through which the signals circulate is not deployed. And this is supposed to happen, at least in China, Europe and the United States, in 2020.
The 5G internet connection is projected to be 40 times faster than the 4G we currently use and the volume of data communicated significantly higher (estimates vary here). The importance of this technology is that it constitutes the necessary infrastructure for the functioning of the new network society, including the new economy. This new structure, which already exists to a large extent, is at the basis of the connection of large databases (big data), the deployment of artificial intelligence applications and, therefore, advanced robotics (machines capable of learning ) and, above all, of the so-called internet of things. By such we mean the multiplicity of ultra-fast internet connections not only between humans and their organizations, but also between objects of all kinds, in the domestic sphere, mobile money, the car without a driver, remote surgery, virtual teaching or drone wars. We are not talking about science fiction, but about what has already been researched, designed, produced and is operational.
As an indication of what is happening, in 2014 there were some 1.6 billion connected objects / machines. In 2020 it is estimated that there will be 20,000 million. However, the actual operation of these multiple networks on a single communication infrastructure requires a network with the characteristics of 5G. With its consequent risks. On the one hand, that of cybersecurity (interference and surveillance of all kinds, especially from governments, including all). On the other hand, the potential health hazards still little evaluated. It turns out that a key feature of this new network is a very high density of mini-antennas that are being planted in all cities in order, through their coordinated spectrum coverage, to obtain ubiquitous communication from any point of the network to any other. Before you get scared, think that this network, like everything we have been inventing, is going to unfold and you (or your children or your granddaughters) are going to use it, yes or yes. With which the urgent thing is to seriously analyze the impacts of these multiple electromagnetic fields on health (about which there are many myths, similar to the anti-vaccine movement) and find technical solutions to prevent potential damage.
In any case, the construction and management of the 5G network (s) becomes an essential field of the struggle for power and money, because we live in the age of data capitalism and data only works when they can be processed and connected.
That is why a violent reaction from the US government has been unleashed against Huawei’s participation in the design and construction of the network. And it turns out that, in the opinion of most experts, Huawei has the most advanced design and manufacturing technology in the world in 5G telecommunication networks. I believe that the psychological shock of the Government (much less that of the companies) is comparable to the panic that arose before the Soviet Sputnik in 1957.
How is it possible – they say in the United States – that the Chinese are more advanced when their competitive advantage was supposed to be in copying and manufacturing cheaper by exploiting their labor, without adding value through research? We are in the presence of a mixture of superiority complex and ignorance. Huawei is among the top five companies in the world in R&D spending, it has tens of thousands of researchers, with centers around the world, not only in China, but in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs. And it obtained more technology patents in 2017-2018 than any technology company in the United States. Even so, the paranoia of US strategists is such that, considering the geopolitical and even military consequences of this technology, they decided that Huawei’s advantage could only come from industrial espionage and have arrested and prosecuted CFO Meng Wanzhou , daughter of the founder of the company. Tests? At the time of his arrest he was carrying an iPhone and an iPad. Conclusive, right? The serious accusation is that Huawei is a state company (false, it is private, as is Alibaba, the largest e-commerce company in the world) and it is introducing a “back door” access in the network through which it can be spy on everyone. And the only thing missing was for the Chinese government to launch its initiative to build transport and communications infrastructures in Europe and Asia (the new silk road) in collaboration with ten European countries, including Italy, for 5G to be interpreted as a project of Chinese domination over the West.
Objectively, it takes a lot of cynicism to portray the US government, as well as the Europeans, as respectful of privacy. There are multiple disclosures and documents (notably the Snowden papers) that show the systematic practice of legal or illegal surveillance by US agencies around the world, as does the Chinese government. And the aid of military markets to companies like Boeing and Silicon Valley is a fact.
The new technological revolution is becoming a geopolitical battlefield, to the detriment of the synergistic cooperation that some European companies are trying.
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