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Will 5G Make Us Less Free?

The problem is not the means, but the purpose for which it is intended to be used.

[Leer en español]

Without digging into too many technical details, it is easy to see that the development of different technical solutions implies that they have a higher speed and performance and processing capacity. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about a web application, a latest-generation cell phone or any other “invention” that aims to make our day-to-day lives easier.

This also applies to cell phone generations, whose future version, which is already being worked on, has the fifth order. In other words, we are talking about the well-known, controversial, suggestive and contentious 5G, which has been an object of tense discussions in the last biennium.

In the wake of the health, economic and political crisis caused by the spread of the so-called “Chinese virus“, there were those who came to develop theories about 5G that sometimes exceeded reasonable concerns about privacy and property, incurring in the so-called conspiracy theories.

Some argue that coronavirus “outbreaks” were more intense in areas where there were telecommunication antennas for devices whose networks are prepared for telephone generation (remember that in some areas there were campaigns to destroy them, for example in France and the United Kingdom).

Meanwhile, others maintain that the main immunological solutions (vaccines) contain nanometer-scale microchips that will facilitate, in the not too distant future, the monitoring of citizenship by the states and other entities that, under the framework of crony capitalism, could cooperate with the former.

Personally, I understand that there may be objections to vaccination, beyond the question of free choice. I also assume that one must be critical in all aspects of life, without excluding any discipline. However, I find no reason to make a generalized and unfounded criticism of what is part of the spontaneous evolutionary order (technology).

Advantages of 5G

One of the main advantages of the fifth generation of mobile telephony will be an acceleration of the various connectivity mechanisms between devices and geographic points. Connections will be less latent as well as much faster, being able to withstand a greater number of nodes (connected equipment) in specific networks.

In a unit area there will be a hundredfold increase in the number of connected devices, while the bandwidth, also on a unit area basis, will be multiplied by a unit of thousands. At the same time, according to the Thales Group web portal, the data rate will be able to reach up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).

This higher speed will be feasible as frequencies are shortened, with the millimeter oscillating between thirty and three hundred gigahertz (GHz). But the reduction in the latency rate can be quantified in a single millisecond, which reduces this rate by almost two hundredths of a millisecond, as was the case with 4G.

Everyday usability, utopian theory?

The GSM Association (GSMA) acknowledges, in a report published in July 2020 and entitled 5G and Data Privacy – An overview for policymakers, that there may be privacy risks and challenges to be considered by organizations and entities involved in various projects.

As for the smaller size of the devices (the so-called chips come in here), it is considered that there will be much more accurate geopositioning information, increasing the volume of data as a whole. Let us remember that satellite geopositioning systems are becoming more and more powerful, given our progressive hyperconnectivity.

There will in turn be a greater number of antennas with a huge amount of bidirectional and multiple exchanges, both incoming and outgoing. But it is considered that it will be virtually impossible to infer anything from the parameters of the data packets that make up this communication, regardless of the geographic direction.

In any case, given that there will be a greater volume of virtual networks in organizations, they consider that there must be “network layers” to isolate strictly confidential data, as might be the case in a financial institution or a police service. They also ignore the fact that many prevention mechanisms will have to be put in place.

That said, it is worth mentioning some of their applications. Health care will be one of them, as it will ensure greater precision in diagnosis and treatment. For example, in image processing and virtual reality, which can facilitate the task of treating patients with lesions or certain tumors.

Big Data also comes into play, along with Artificial Intelligence, as clinical monitoring will be possible that transcends the possibility of future remote care. Certain diseases can be prevented or much more detailed clinical analysis information can be made available, leading to a longer life expectancy.

Cloud computing will become much more optimal, but live connections will also be optimized, which will be profitable in education, healthcare and journalism. At the same time, autonomous vehicles and home automation will be able to reduce, depending on the case, the risk of accidents, and facilitate tasks for people with visual, hearing or motor disabilities.

Reasons for skepticism?

The risks of these developments in telecommunications engineering are the same as those of any other spontaneous advance. Once again, I will insist that the problem is not the means, but the purpose for which its use is intended. In fact, Evil is unfortunately a problem in our world, inside and outside the network of networks and what depends on bits (zeros and ones).

Therefore, what we will have to do is to bet and contribute to everything that allows a greater social, economic and scientific development, but at the same time, to be alert to any opportunity that the totalitarians of the modern states may find to crush and ruin society.

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