What is your opinion on 5G technology

Pronounced ... posthuman
What does 5G technology bring us?

Mega, Giga, Tera: The speed of the enormous amounts of data in our mobile world is decisive for prosperity and thus for world peace. Liwen Qin is concerned about the price of progress.

From Liwen Qin

Nowadays, the 5G cellular standard is probably one of the most important indicators of a country's innovative strength. The competition for 5G technology determines the global economy and the frosty relations between China and the USA and even seems to trigger a cold war over the technology of this century.

What is 5G

5G is the fifth generation in mobile communications and ensures higher speeds and more reliable connections than ever before on smartphones and other devices. 5G connections are between a hundred and a thousand times faster than the current ones and have an average download rate of around one gigabit per second.
What can the fast mobile internet do? Put simply, it will change the way users live and open up new opportunities for business and social management.

What does 5G bring us?

5G offers users innovation in entertainment and lifestyle: from simultaneous loading and playing of films via a mobile connection to interactive AR / VR games (AR: Augmented Reality / VR: Virtual Reality) in real time that mix with real experiences, chasing virtual dinosaurs on the streets. Not only smartphones, but also cars or home electronics can be accessed and managed with the standard and are integrated into an intelligent environment that is tailored to the needs of users and even creates new demands.
Business and social management are also embedded in an intelligent environment or infrastructure through 5G and could thus increase production or make transport and administration significantly more efficient. 5G is an important step on the way to the further digitization of our world.

An example

Imagine an automated truck that supplies a shoe factory with raw materials on a daily basis: All the required materials are calculated in real time by evaluating digital data in order to avoid overproduction. This even applies to products ordered online for individual customers. Enormous amounts of data have to be transferred between millions of devices and the digital infrastructure of smartphones, computers, warehouse management systems or intelligent traffic management systems in a very short time. This could lead to the emergence of new branches of the economy and a changed political and social culture.

No pros without cons

But of course the closer global network also raises concerns. People who grow up in such a world may allow technology too much autonomy: from physical ability to interact with the environment, to the emotional ability to deal with real people. If machines are programmed to protect the interests of those in power, it would be very difficult for individuals to rebel against it, because their location and communications are easy to monitor and even manipulate.

The security risks for businesses and governments are immense. An investigation by the Australian government in early 2018 found that a country with 5G connectivity would be exposed to (espionage) attacks from outside. From electricity and water supply to waste management - anything would be a vulnerable target. The technology could be used by hackers to influence political elections or public opinion.

The 5G standard probably harbors as many challenges as it does opportunities. Since technical progress cannot and should not be stopped, it is absolutely necessary worldwide to analyze the risks and problems of 5G in detail and to develop effective countermeasures.

"Pronounced ..."

In our column series “Pronounced…”, Liwen Qin, Maximilian Buddenbohm, Dominic Otiang’a and Gerasimos Bekas write alternately each week. In “Outspoken… posthuman”, Liwen Qin observes technical progress and how it affects our lives and our society: in the car, in the office and at the supermarket checkout.



Liwen Qin is the founder and CEO of Trends Eurasia GmbH, a Berlin consulting company that connects the digital markets between Germany and China.

Translation: Christiane Wagler
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet editorial office
June 2019

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