A transparent future

    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: A transparent future

    Ever since the introduction of 5G networks for mobile phones last year, conspiracyVerschwörungconspiracy theorists have been warning about the dangers of the technology. Some have even suggested a link between 5G and Covid-19. Our British columnist Colin Beaven isn’t paying attention to these theories, however. He’s discovered some new ones that are much more fun to worry about.

    Do we need more technology to help us communicate? In fact, it seems we do. A whole new generation of it. The fifth, in fact; after 3G and 4G, our mobile phone companies have now built parts of their 5G networks, and are waiting for us all to buy phones we can use with them.

    The name “fifthhier: Anspielung auf die Fünfte Sinfoniefifth generation” sounds impressive. Will Vodafone’s fifth be like Beethoven’s, admired still in 250 years’ time? It will certainly be faster than the old ones. Goodbye to the adagio, moderato, allegro and vivace of generations 1, 2, 3 and 4: we’ll now get presto agitato.

    But there’s more to it than just speed. 5G mobile technology will bring us more data, more downloads, more detail, but also more doubt. There’s been criticism — and not only in the form of crazy conspiracy theories — that link 5G to the spread of the coronavirus.

    There are also questions about privacyPrivatsphäreprivacy and national security. Should Britain let a company from China play a part in the project? controversiallyumstrittenerweiseControversially, at one point the government decided it should, and gave the firm Huawei a contract. Bad idea? Donald Trump thought so. Was he right for once? Perhaps it really is wise to keep foreign companies away from systems that might be important for national security, in case they start sharing information.

    We wouldn’t want our phone calls to be heard by overseas governments. Is that just another crazy conspiracy theory? Or an echo from the days when the Swiss company Crypto sold machines that helped the United States and Germany to spy abroad?

    Perhaps the story about Crypto really does serve as a warning when communications technology is so dominated by giants like Huawei. And Google. Whom do we turn to when we need a web browser? Google Crime. I mean Chrome. And when we download a film? Amazon Crime. I mean Prime.

    With 5G, we’ll be generating breathtakingatemberaubendbreathtaking amounts of data. How will the tech giants use it? Google Maps won’t just give you directionsWegbeschreibungdirections from, say, London to Birmingham; it’ll start the route from the sofa in your living room, and tell you whether it’s quicker to go left or right round the coffee table.

    Google Maps might even to zoom inheranzoomen, vergrößernzoom in on meals you’ve eaten and show their journey through your body. Down your oesophagusSpeiseröhreoesophagus, through your stomach and… beyond. Just think: an online map of your alimentary canalVerdauungstraktalimentary canal that anyone can download. That’s no doubt why it’s called YouTube.

    I think we can safely say we’ve once more reached the land of conspiracy theories. We often do in these columns. But even though these are the very latest fifth-generation conspiracy theories, I’m sure they can be ignored just as safely as the old ones.

    Still, it’s better to be better safe than sorryVorsicht ist besser als Nachsichtsafe than sorry. If, for example, you don’t want the internet to show everyone all the unhealthy food you’ve been eating, such as the packet of chocolate biscuits you ate for breakfast, you might want to learn how to manage your cookies(comp.) Cookies; auch: N. Am. Keksecookies.

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