5G is everything but real innovation


More exactly: real innovation of what matters the most.

5G has been framed as a critical infrastructure for smart cities, driverless cars and the Internet of Things. Yeah, right.

That bulimic storytelling of 5G is driven largely by greed, or hype, that never stops: “5G will not be able to handle the number of ‘things’ which are now connected to the network in a couple of years’ time … We need to start thinking about 6G now.””

5G is wireless. NOT immaterial, or discrete

5G is everything but real innovation /img/5g-more-data-collection.jpg

The purpose of 5G is to make money by moving as much data as possible. But the more data is moved, the more we are all farmed, and inferred.

Besides, to do this, 5G depends on physical stuff. LOTS of stuff. Stuff that, in addition to require lots of energy and (hardly recyclable) raw materials, needs a massive restructuring of cities: “cables and trenches, processors and poles, compatible phones and data centers”.

How long will it take to procure and deploy all that physical stuff through a global mess of trade disputes, unprepared regulations, security concerns and local opposition, nobody knows. What we do know, however, is that:

5G is not more important, or innovative, than REALLY “Smart Cities”

Much of what is promised by 5G is not real innovation, but just more “linking the same stuff: robots and animated objects and families separated by continents and oceans.”

5G, however, as explained in “Networked Dream Worlds” has deep impacts on “landscape, real estate, aesthetics, public resources, energy, equity, and governance”. Here are the main points of that thesis, on which there should be much, much more discussion!

  • public airwaves are like public lands, a commons
  • infrastructures both depend on, and implement, “politics and paranoias, fantasies and fears”
  • without participation and accountability, all public infrastructures (especially, I would say, telecom ones) create barriers that can “perpetuate iniquities between communities distinguished by race, class, and culture”
  • entrusting the telecom and tech industry to build “critical infrastructure for a planned global transformation” is NOT smart

It his high time, instead, to imagine novel network architecture - and the politics embodied within it. It is time to imagine together new visions for “what infrastructures are and do, who they serve and how, what values they embody, and what they make possible”.

EXAMPLE: placing energy efficiency or local responsiveness, or SLOWNESS of both e-commerce and social platforms before raw data speed and capacity).

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