Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris in Lifestyle, IT - Information Technology, Telecommunications and Informatics Chief Science Officer • Data Science Partnership Dec 28, 2020 · 2 min read · 2.1K

A Levelheaded Examination of 5G Technology

A Levelheaded Examination of 5G Technology

Although I'm sure you've heard various things about 5G and how people with different agendas interpret this technology, I'll do my best to provide a levelheaded examination of this new tech in Wireless Communication. I'm not an expert though I have devoted several years to acquiring Engineering training to understand and apply constructive criticism on this topic. Also, I'm very fond of new technologies (not a technophobe by any stretch of the imagination) plus my father used to work for Bell Labs, the research-oriented organization which morphed into various Telecom companies in the US.

So, why 5G? Well, for various reasons, the bandwidth the existing (4G) technology offers isn't enough, at least for some people. The latter require larger bandwidth, especially if the Internet of Things (IoT) is to become a practical technology. That could potentially facilitate various logistical processes (in the broadest sense of the word) and bring about Smart Cities wherever it is applied. This kind of urban infrastructure can have various benefits, such as mitigating accidents, enabling better monitoring of IoT devices, etc.

All this sounds nice and dandy, but just like every other technology, some risks need to be addressed, and various technical issues need to be ironed out before the technology is safe and efficient. Think about the first trains, for example; a wonderful and promising technology when it made its debut, but the braking systems they had were insufficient, resulting in a series of accidents. Eventually, new standards for brakes came about and put the brake on accidents. The legislation for giving these new standards a legal substance and country-wide applicability took a while to manifest but hey, at least not everyone was on board those trains when they crashed or were derailed, so it was an acceptable risk we were willing to take collectively.

So, what are the issues of 5G that would need to be addressed to make 5G a viable option for the average Joe? Well, first of all, there haven't been sufficient health checks regarding the EMF radiation involved. That's not to say that it's lethal, but personally, I'd rather hop on a train whose brakes have passed some checks and whose managing company can be used if things go sideways. As much as I love trains and the logistic convenience they offer, I value safety more. Perhaps once these health and safety concerns are addressed, 5G would be something few people would oppose.

Of course, the EMF radiation is just one aspect of the whole technology. After all, if we were to hook up all our internet-accessing devices (aka anything with "smart" in its name, including computers of any kind), that would make them all vulnerable to cyber-attacks. So, cybersecurity (CS) protocols need to be in place before such a large-scale deployment of the 5G technology would be secure. Last I checked, many companies still lack that level of sophistication in their CS protocols and CS habits. The recent security breach of the Solar Winds company attests to that.

Finally, there is the matter of speed. Even if 5G technology boasts higher speeds and reliable connections, so far, it hasn't managed to deliver. I'm not referring to some small town in the countryside where most people don't even know what high-speed internet is, but New York City (I strongly recommend you check this link). So, perhaps the 5G phones aren’t there yet, partly because their towers aren’t enough in number or in terms of power.

To sum up, 5G seems to be a promising technology, if everything its advocates say is valid. Given how inaccurate the original predictions of new technology are, however, the chances of this happening aren't that promising. Coupled with the security concerns of such a technology, be it health-or CS-related, it would be wiser to wait for it to mature. After all, once we board a train, there isn't much we can do, especially if its weak spot is the brakes! Cheers.

Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris Jan 5, 2021 · #17

#16 I see your point and I agree, at least with the principle of it. If you wish to have a more in-depth discussion on the topic, outside social media, I'd be happy to make time for it. Perhaps we'll then find out that our logics aren't all that different, merely the premises we hold as valid. Cheers!

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Lada 🏡 Prkic Jan 5, 2021 · #16

#13 Zacharias, I don't get offended easily. What you think is an appropriate comment to illustrate your logic, is just not appropriate to me. Your logic is not my logic. :-)
I changed my mind over many things when arguments and evidence convinced me. Only dogmatic people (in both meanings of the word "dogmatic") don't change their views. Still, there are topics I'm quite adamant about, just like you.
Discussing differences in views is not easy on social media. Some studies conducted a couple of years ago confirmed that we perceive what we watch and listen differently from the written word, especially when it comes to polarized opinions.
But as I said in my last post, without asking questions, discussing thoughts and ideas with goodwill, and respectful disagreement, there is no genuine engagement, neither on social media nor in real life.

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Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris Jan 4, 2021 · #15

#14 Shooting someone with a gun doesn't change that person's molecular structure either; it doesn't mean that it's safe to do so. We could also argue that no radiation we've ever encountered has a chemical poisoning effect on people, this doesn't mean that that radiation is safe though. Therefore, your argument is weak, at best. It would be more convincing if you took into account radiation density (in terms of sources of radiation), the synergistic effects of these sources, and also long-term exposure to such radiation before you can make an argument about safety.

All other telecom radiation technologies have been tested and there exist standards on their amplitude as well as other specs. No such standards have been examined for 5G. This, combined with the fact that this technology doesn't deliver on its key premise (higher speeds), would normally make someone skeptical about it. Something to think about.

On another note, all our experience with computer systems renders them safe and all issues with them are usually due to human error. Yet, many scientists (including some well-known ones) have expressed concern with A.I. systems. By the same logic, they shouldn't be concerned since no computer system has put the world in jeopardy before. Something to think about.

I'd also recommend the book "Black Swan" by N. N. Taleb, where he explores rare events with high impact (which he calls black swans) and how predicting them is very hard, while their repercussions can be detrimental sometimes. Something to think about.

Ian Weinberg Jan 4, 2021 · #14

Just contributing my little bit to the pot - There is no convincing evidence in all the scientific work that I've reviewed over the years to show that non-ionizing radiation has significant negative effects on the living human organism. Just out of interest the most extreme of non-ionizing radiation, that of microwave heating (in a micro-wave oven), does not alter the molecular structure of heated nutrients.

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Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris Jan 4, 2021 · #13

#12 If you were to do the research I've done on the topics I write about, perhaps you'd also be quite adamant about your views on these topics. Also, the inappropriate comment about the handgun was there to illustrate how that particular logic you used was flawed. Now, if someone is so attached to their logic that they feel offended, that's a different story. There are things that I changed my mind about over the past few weeks (e.g. the necessity of having strictly independent variables when constructing a model, something I've held as a given for many years). With the right arguments, every person can change their views. Cheers

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Lada 🏡 Prkic Jan 3, 2021 · #12

#10 As I noticed in some of your comments (even in this comment stream), you're not quite open to discussing opinions different than yours. Your remark about the handgun is not very appropriate.
Unfortunately, the text-based only interaction on social media often leads to misconception. :(

Lada 🏡 Prkic Jan 3, 2021 · #11

#10 My University won't buy me a handgun, only a smartphone. :)

Zacharias 🐝 Voulgaris Jan 3, 2021 · #10

#9 By the same logic then you should get yourself a good handgun. The technology is already here so... (btw, I'm not for guns, I'm just following your logic pattern)