G5 technology dictating world’s next super power
By Levi Obonyo
Could technology be the feature that leads us into a world of super divide, separating China on the one hand on the list of the world’s have, and the United States leading the rest of the world on the list of the world’s have nots? That could easily be the subtle story of the tariff war that President Donald Trump is currently waging against China.
Trump shoots from the hip and there is no telling where he is going to train his guns next. This last week he surprised his country by announcing the cancelation of a peace summit with the warring sides in Afghanistan’s never-ending bloodbath.
To purist America, the idea of Taliban warriors in America’s hallowed grounds in Maryland is tantamount to witnessing the devil dancing on the grave of Jesus. America, this week, remembered September the 11, almost two decades ago, when terrorists flew four airplanes and crashed them in the United States. The Taliban, one of the fighting forces engaged in the turmoil in Afghanistan has sympathisers of the terror body that coordinated the attacks in the United States.
Camp David just outside the seat of presidential power in Washington is the hallowed ground on which American presidents retreat to when they need rest or when they are scheming big things. But it is to these grounds that Trump proposed to bring America’s enemies to. A president who can do that is certainly unhinged and there is no telling what he may do next.
It is Trump who is leading the war of taxes against Chinese goods and China is retaliating in good measure. One of Trump’s targets is of course Huawei, the Jewel on the crown of Chinese technological innovation. Huawei has grown exponentially since its founding 32 years ago. And while it is a private enterprise, given the nature of Chinese society characterised by strong leadership, it is always difficult to figure out where the private investment ends and the public one begins.
Huawei has been leading the way on work on 5G. In the world of technology, 5G is the next frontier of innovation, and whoever cracks it first will, in most probability, rule the world of technology. A lot of artificial intelligence work will rely on 5G technology.
While Huawei of China is currently excelling in this field none of America’s companies are yet to make baby steps in it. If anything it is Europe, through Erickson and Nokia who could be considered as competitors of Huawei but they are still playing catchup.
The developments at the European companies are considered so expensive that from a cost point of view, it is hard to see how Europe will compete with China on this front.
Which means that at the present rate of development it may not be possible for the West, in this case led by Washington, to catch up with Beijing.
It is hard to see how western economy, driven by private sector funding, much of it premised on quick and sure returns for the investors will rise to compete with a company such as Huawei that has a complicated relationship in terms of state private sector divide and possible access to public funding.
In the leaps that Huawei is likely to make, if the pace is maintained at the present rate, then Washington and its allies will be left watching from the starting point.
The result will be a huge chasm between the have, and the have nots represented by the United States among others in this battle for the control of the heart of society. The result could be the equivalent of the divided world that we have so many times witnessed before, only that this time it would be played on the platform of technology. If anything could mark the rise of the East to rule the world, this 5G technological dominance could be it.
—The writer is the Dean, School of Communication, Daystar University.