5G: Rise of the Machines

Commentary, Disruption, Lee Harding

The Terminator movies were prediction, not fiction. The proof abounds in China, recently dubbed by the CBC as the world’s first digital dictatorship. The dragon has interfaced the fifth generation of wireless technology with surveillance cameras, and facial recognition software to form Sky Net. That is the system’s literal name. 5G is coming to Canada next, leaving the Chinese technology and the example of its usage of eminent concern to some eminent Canadians.

“Technology has made the dystopian novels of the 20th century almost seem quaint because the level of surveillance is so great and very inconsistent with our own views, and our own society, of the right of individuals to live their lives privately,” former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell said in a recent segment on CBC News.

“Some of the new monitoring and surveillance is straight out of  Orwell’s 1984 and should concern everyone,” said Erin O’Toole, the Foreign Affairs Critic for the Opposition Conservatives. O’Toole believes Canada should not allow Chinese companies like Huawei to implement 5G in our land. “There’s been a real concern amongst the 5 eyes security partners–United States, U.K. Australia, New Zealand, that some of the smaller partners including Canada might be a bit of a crack into the security establishment.”

The Royal Services Institute certainly agrees. It advised the U.K, “Allowing Huawei’s participation is at best naive, at worst irresponsible,” Although Huawei is private, should China request private information from the company, it would have no choice but to comply. The U.S. has produced documentation that proves that Huawei stole trade secrets from American company T-Mobile even paid bonuses to employees who participated in the theft. As a result, the U.S. has barred Huawei from servicing federal agencies and putting up 5G networks, as has Australia.

Canada has not declared a firm decision on Huawei, nor has its five eyes partner New Zealand. Last December, the Prime Minister said a decision on Huawei should not be political. That rings hollow to the Chinese now, given the political pressure apparent in the SNC-Lavalin case and Canada’s role in the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. China is a key parts supplier to Bell, Telus, and Rogers. Canada has given Finnish company Nokia the nod for a $40 million research deal for 5G, but its parent company is now under investigation for apparent traffic of sensitive data from its phones to a server in China.

Even if the Chinese tentacles could be completely severed, 5G presents higher security risks regardless. The entire point of 5G is to deliver more data from more data points—every one of which could provide a breach into the entire network.

The Canadian government has already announced it will auction off broadband space for 5G in 2020. In the meantime, the 5G pilot is going on right at Ottawa City Hall. Strangely, the capital cities of both the United States and Canada are test cities for the technology’s roll-out “The nation’s capital has to be the worst place to serve as a guinea pig,” Linnea Warren testified last November at a Washington D.C. public roundtable in opposition to a 5G rollout there.

Sky Net already monitored all of Beijing by 2015 and its social credit system now spans nationwide. The privileges of people are determined by what they do and do not do, their purchases, internet surfing, and social media comments. Get a demerit and so will your friends and family—ensuring social credit also equals social pressure. Critics of the government may find themselves unable to take a train, ride a plane, or rent property.

China insists its social credit system keeps the people safe and makes their lives easier, and the organizations dreaming up the 5G world in the west invoke chillingly similar doublespeak. For example, the ARC advisory group says, “Broadly, a smart city is connected, intelligent and optimized by a municipality to reduce costs, increase safety, attract investment, be sustainable, and enhance livability. To get there will require smart governance, the education of a smart workforce and smart citizens, the digital transformation of assets, and the deployment of sensor networks with ubiquitous multimodal connectivity.”

In plainspeak, that means everyone must be re-educated for a world full of machines that are everywhere and governing everything in steely alignment with the technocrats’ goals.

Of smart buildings ARC says, “They will also aggregate, analyze, and stream data to edge computing where advanced predictive analytic engines will enable new levels of control and security.”

Artificial intelligence keeps the heat on. There won’t be an analog thermostat left, nor anyone to turn the dial.

Marshall McLuhan’s fourth law of media was that every technology makes something obsolete. To some extent, 5G makes people themselves obsolete, something that will become unfortunately more true when 6G rolls out.  China is already working on that. The Terminator: Rise of the Machines has become real.