The Technology Phenomenon
Worldwide, May 3, 2020
“International Burn Down a 5G Tower Day” was established through online chat forums and social media by anti-5G campaigners. If my reader is unaware, 5G will be the next wave of technological advances introduced into our society. It refers to the fifth generation of technology standards for cell phones. With 5G, we will get faster internet services by using higher frequency radio waves and a greater bandwidth. Along with a faster internet service, 5G may ultimately fuse our lives with technology on a daily basis. Much like Siri or Amazon’s Echo, our phones will be capable of picking up audio and transmitting information to other services.
General Robert S. Spalding's work with the US National Security Council primarily involved US-China relations and focused on 5G technology. In a 2019 interview with entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David he explains that in 2009 China sought to dominate tech and compete with the success of American based companies such as Google and Apple. “5G is computing and networking combined on the same platform … you walk outside your door and you say ‘Uber.’ You don’t get on your phone and say ‘I want an Uber.’ You just say ‘Uber.’ The camera picks up your face or the microphone picks up the audio… the Uber shows up. There’s a camera on the car that sees you, knows who you are. They don’t have to ask for your name. You get in. And you go to wherever you want.”
Instead of technology being an extension of ourselves, we would be directly interacting with the 5G network on a regular basis. With our current phones, we have the option of putting them away and not interacting with them. And to some extent we still have the ability to live in a naturalistic world apart from the radiating demands of online services. At this moment we may opt out of online subscriptions, online banking, online media interactions, online shopping and more.
In the 5G world our lives will be imbedded in the internet. As technology grows, it will become more and more difficult to hide from it. It was just recently that Planet Fitness insisted that every member download the Planet Fitness app on their phones and scan their membership information in this way in lieu of a physical gym tag and it left me wondering about the few people who do not have a smart phone. Many fast food chains have made online ordering a standard, in which a customer may order their food before entering the building and can pay for their order through their phones. I wonder if this service will eventually become the primary method of ordering our food, replacing the cashier and physical money with digital currency and online data. The question becomes, how long until it is the only way of operating our system? While this may seem like a convenience for many, it could cause strain on those less compliant with technology.
There are those who believe that our technology is unhealthy, either mentally or physically. As Americans flock to social media to proclaim their opinions and document the everyday life, there is a growing threat to privacy in our world. Facebook users readily share their personal lives to friends and strangers alike. Instagram is packed with photos of our personal lives. While some share photos of food, family and friends, others privately message pornographic images to one another. Pornography and sexual predators are more prevalent in our society than ever before. It is accessible on nearly every network and with the technology that our phones provide, it has leaked into the average lives of many. In South Korea, there is a growing number of sexual predators who have hacked the computers and phones of women in pursuit of spying on their private lives. Co-director at Human Rights Watch Heather Barr explains that this spy-cam epidemic has caused women to feel anxious about public restrooms and hidden cameras. “An alarming number of survivors of digital sex crimes said they had considered suicide,” She shares. “Anyone who has ever viewed one of these nonconsensual images could have taken a screenshot and can share that screenshot any time, on any website, from which it may spread uncontrollably.”
General Spalding expresses that with 5G we will not know who owns our data. “Everything that you do can be watched,” he says. By 2022, he states there will be one camera for every two people in China. To monitor the public during the pandemic many countries, including the USA, have experimented with surveillance drones that hover from above as pedestrians go about their lives. “Please put on your mask!” the drone might shout out as it spotlights an individual walking down the street. The scene feels chillingly similar to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, in which a robotic dog sniffs out crime.
What’s more, some believe that 5G is contributing to the physical health degradation of those exposed. In a fiery report at the United Nations of Vienna, staffer Claire Edwards expressed that the UN staff had been “exposed to off the scale electromagnetic radiation from Wi-Fi and mobile phone boosters.” In her speech she claimed that “current public exposure levels are at least one quintillion times above natural background radiation.” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres ignored these claims and Edwards appealed, gathering the support of over 30,000 followers worldwide. In January of 2001, Penn State University published a paper called DNA And The Microwave Effect, which states that mobile phone electromagnetic radiation is “powerful enough to heat body tissue the same way a microwave oven cooks food.” In Switzerland, 5G rollout is currently halted due to health concerns. While nations race ahead to install 5G towers, the Swiss have reservations on the radiation exposure it may cause.
77 5G towers have been illegally burned down in the UK by civilians and dozens more worldwide. The belief that 5G imposes a threat on not only individual freedom but also on the public health is held globally, sparking online discussion and protesting.
According to a Chicago Tribune investigation, “radio frequency radiation exposure from the iPhone 7—one of the most popular smartphones ever sold—measured over the legal safety limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators from its own testing.”
A USA Today article, however, debunks this claim stating that this belief came from conspiracy theorists who are “uninformed people on the internet trying to link things that are not at all connected.” It might interest my reader to know, however, that USA Today is owned by Gannet media, which is funded by Softbank. Softbank has recently announced its plan to fund Artificial Intelligence technology and currently invests in companies that create a spectrum of tech from self-driving cars with Nuro to gene therapy with biotech/pharmaceutical company ElevateBio. If these claims on the dangers of electromagnetic radiation are widely held, Softbank’s growing enterprise will be compromised. It’s no wonder that a media company operating under their charge would discredit the dangers of technology as conspiracy theory. Through Gannet—the nation’s largest newspaper company—Softbank funds over 250 newspapers.
In fact, the fact checking websites that light up our Google searches have proven less than crystalline themselves. Fact checking website, snopes.com was founded through David and Barbara Mikkelson, a married couple who eventually divorced. David Mikkelson has been accused of several accounts of embezzling company money for prostitution purposes. When Forbes Magazine reached out to Mikkelson for clarity on their fact checking sources, they were denied.
Fact Checker is a fact checking service operated through The Washington Post. The Washington Post is owned by Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos. While Bezos’ political affiliation is unknown, I have to question whether a single man might hold the reigns to my information or my belief system through monopolizing information and my understanding of truths.
This is an era of extreme technological advances. SpaceX founder Elon Musk promises to take us to Mars for a future space civilization. At MIT scientists have developed an “in-body GPS” implant that can track physical health. Demis Hassabis of leading AI company DeepMind is currently developing an artificial intelligence that learns on itself. In China, a civilian’s face can be scanned and logged through cameras and a computer system. In Sweden through SCoPEx Bill Gates planned on emitting Calcium Carbonate into the atmosphere to block out sun rays until the project was canceled due to protests. And multiple tech companies such as Realbotix and AI-Harmony race to create the most lifelike sex robots on the market.
If we strap ourselves into these self-driving cars of the future will we be allowed to turn around if we change our mind on the direction we’re headed? Or will we be catapulted into the world Heironymous Bosch prophesied for us in his painting Garden of Earthly Delights? Will the algorithms and data comply with the unpredictable nuances of mankind? Or will it demand in us rigid compliance and exactness just as machinery requires? I wonder often these days, will we be able to get off the space craft after it’s launched? And to what end are we headed but to Mars, the planet of war, made up of nothing but red dust?