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5G: The Race between China and AI to Take Over the World

5G: The Race between China and AI to Take Over the World

Jonathan Life, PhD April 2, 2019

As the title to this blog may have indicated to you, I’m not an inherently technological kind of guy. Whenever my computer has updates to install, I tend to hit “wait ‘til later” repeatedly every hour for 6 months. I do this despite knowing that eventually—out of what my human brain can only conceptualise as desperation—my computer will bang on the table and forcibly install whatever software improvement it is that makes things slightly more confusing to me until I get used to it (usually just in time to put off installing the next thing).

This is who I am, so if there are any ways this post may be lacking in precise technical content, you can rest assured it will make up for that by also lacking any ounce of tech-savvy condescension. If, like me, you didn’t know what a 5G network was before today, here, as far as I can tell, is what you need to know.

‘5G’ is short for the fifth generation of data transmission systems. Thought of in itself, 5G may just be a slightly faster information network, allowing you to download Step Brothers for your family’s viewing in seconds instead of minutes. Thought of as a medium for the development of other technologies, though, it may be revolutionary.

Many aspiring technologies will become effective and safe for the first time once 5G networks are available: self-driving cars, robotics-assisted life-saving surgeries for remote areas, and even exciting new internet-of-things applications in the construction industry.


RISKS AND REWARDS

Sure, there are some concerns some people have.

There is a bit of controversy, for example, over whether allowing Chinese tech companies to help build Canada’s 5G networks could pose security risks. While the Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies, is not a state-run company, some analysts believe its Canadian 5G network project might be used by the Chinese government to facilitate intelligence gathering. Should we be worried? I’m no political strategist on this one.

Or maybe your concerns are more long-term: how will future artificial intelligence use 5G networks to communicate and strategize over long distances? Will robots at NASA be texting your microwave and telling it to attack the neighbours? Maybe NASA and your microwave know something about your neighbours that you don’t? Did I mention I’m not a technology expert? Perhaps I should start learning, mind you, so as to compete in the future’s automated job market. Saudi Arabia’s lovable life-like ‘bot, Sophia, may be writing blogs soon.

The one point to remember is that 5G is cool and that soon you will be able to download every episode of Dancing with the Stars within a second. Awesome. Plus, construction, transit, and medicine will have new room to grow and will thus provide new benefits to society. The world of technology is ever advancing and can be tough to navigate, but like Tony Robbins says, ‘I’m 7 feet tall! And you can do it!’

I, for one, just try to do my best.

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