[Chronique d’Alain McKenna] Why unplug 5G?


This is not a conspiracy. Disconnect 5G? is the title of a work published today by a collective of French researchers grouped around Jean-Michel Hupé, himself associated with the French Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer, except perhaps this advice: allow the population to have a say in its own technological development.

For if there is a common denominator to all the criticism and all the conspiracies surrounding the emergence of new technologies and new scientific applications like vaccines, it is this: many people all over the world feel overwhelmed by progress that surrounds them and clearly, it annoys them.

The author also borrows this point of view and adjusts it to 5G. His premise: we didn’t need this new generation of wireless networks. Have we fallen into a trap set by the technos so that they can put even more in their pockets?

“The development of 5G telephony technology is a textbook case of the technological race ahead and planned obsolescence,” he says in the foreword.

It sets the tone.

Operation seduction

The first third of the 155-page book focuses on a seduction operation by the industry to convince the authorities and the public of the future benefits promised by 5G, including a number of revolutionary new applications that we do not know about. still nature.

Remote surgeries, wireless virtual and augmented reality, fully accident-proof autonomous cars… Clearly, in the eyes of the researcher, all of this is just window dressing to justify investments of tens of billions of dollars in new cell towers and new wireless devices. We are even already talking about 6G networks…

The problem: we do not know if these technologies will see the light of day. It is even more unclear at this time whether the benefits that we will derive from 5G will outweigh its disadvantages.

It is a headlong rush over which governments and civil society have clearly lost control. The industry recalls that we could not foresee before the launch of the current networks, let’s call them 4G or LTE, the impact that the iPhone, Android phones and their respective stores would have on the economy and society. mobile apps.

What we know and what we don’t know

What are the disadvantages of 5G? There, we enter a vague space. The second third of Disconnect 5G? revisits fears that this new wireless technology will have a negative impact on society, the environment and health. Above all, we go through a good package of scientific studies which say one thing, then another, and which constantly contradict each other.

The social impact of 5G is not much different from that associated with the whole current digital shift. It is above all geopolitical: the Russian and Chinese threat in terms of cyberterrorism is real and already documented. The case of the equipment manufacturer Huawei, banned from Western 5G networks, explains how wireless has become over the years a critical infrastructure for States.

The effect of mobility on children and all the time they spend in front of screens is another detail that troubles the researcher. Again, 5G probably won’t do anything to improve the situation, but it can’t be blamed for the problem.

In terms of health, the role of waves in the formation of cancers in humans, the impact on the brain of the heat produced by cell phones or electromagnetic hypersensitivity are raised. The author lists almost all the studies on these subjects and they go in all directions. The impact of 5G on human health, if not zero, is no different from the impact of current networks.

The entry into service of new frequencies will have effects that are unknown at the present time.

In short: we don’t know much more about the impact of 5G than we know.

Collective duty

« The transition to 5G offers a great opportunity to question and challenge the democratic vacuum that nevertheless deeply structures our lives », concludes Jean-Michel Hupé in the last part of his book. The author suggests a democratic debate on future technological choices.

Obviously, one cannot preach against virtue. We don’t know how it goes in France, but in Quebec, we ask and ask again and again (and generally in vain) for « a social debate » on everything and nothing. It ranges from the maintenance of private outdoor swimming pools to medical care covered by health insurance to the place occupied on our roads by bicycles and electric scooters. Should we add to this litany the evolution of wireless technologies?

That said, wireless technologies are already regulated by law, however incomplete it may be. Those who wish to see the law changed always have the option of exercising their democratic duty and voting for the party that will best respond to their demands, even if, it must be said, our elected officials have demonstrated more than once their inability to properly frame technological issues.

Another equally powerful means possessed by the citizen is his right to consume, or not, the products offered to him. Over the past 50 years, we have seen more than one technological advance abort for lack of sufficient demand: the successor to the compact disc, 3D TV, perhaps virtual reality… and the Minitel, a sort of French rival to the ‘Internet disappeared in 2012.

In short, Disconnect 5G? ask the right questions. There are enlightening answers. But like so many other things, the most important answer is probably in your wallet.

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