Communist networks are better for environment

“What’s intrinsic about the 5G network is that it’s designed for one-to-one communication,” network expert Ben Schwarz explains. “On the kind of influences were seeing on young people—not always young people—it’s done on a very individual, targeted basis. And 5G supports that kind of streaming, where the server creates a specific stream for each individual targeted user. And that’s also what makes them so expensive from an environmental perspective. If you go back to broadcast networks, it’s much, much cheaper to broadcast, but then everybody has to watch the same thing at the same time.”

Individualism is far more environmentally destructive than communism. “The networks could be completely redesigned and consume a lot less power,” Ben explains. “Say, a really popular content comes out; Game of Thrones Season 9 or whatever, and half the planet want to watch it at the same time. We could say: it’s actually going to start every 10 minutes, so you can watch it on the hour, 10 past, 20 past … That could save a huge amount of power and data in the network.”

“When you do want to watch something just for you, say some movie from the 1950s. Maybe then you’d be prepared to wait for a window in a few hours or something, because there’s actually 4-5 people interested in this film. We’ll get them all together and we’ll do the broadcast at this time. And we’ll bring it out of storage where it is stored at a much less energy cost than if it was always-on, always-available.”

“There’s lots of things we could do to save energy and reduce pollution. But then we as users, we would have to accept a different way of interreacting with things. Are we prepared to wait to save the environment?” Are we prepared to slow down? Are we prepared to return to our communal roots? Are we prepared to sacrifice some convenience for the good of the environment?

The meta cause of every crisis we face is overconsumption, and the underlying philosophical driver of overconsumption is individualism. We have created an economy that only can survive by growing consumption, and the best way to do that is to target individual wants, individual selfishness.

We are being trained by Big Tech and AI to be more selfish and self-centered and narcissistic, to maximize both our consumption and production, because that’s how Big Tech grows more profitable: by getting us to consume more and produce more content and data.

We have two forces at play here. The first force is about greed and speed and is accelerating down the road of individualism and environmental ruin. The second force is slow and kind and seeks to stay local and build community. The second force is best articulated by the Degrowth Movement. We must slow down.

Comprehensive overview of degrowth, 12 articles by Jason Hickel, Ying Chen, et al, Monthly Review, 2023
Follow Ben on LinkedIn
Podcast with Ben Schwarz: Is 5G a good thing or not?

Podcast: World Wide Waste
Interviews with prominent thinkers outlining what can be done to make digital as sustainable as possible.
Listen to episodes