The bad news: If the United States remains on its current trajectory with 5G technology, then in a decade or less—with the advent of next-generation 6G mobile broadband—we are at risk of deploying a global information architecture based on Chinese design. And that means living in a world where communications are heavily influenced, if not controlled outright, by an autocratic government with a long history of human rights abuse.
The better news: There’s still time to act, but it’s urgent.
Exactly what 6G will be is still speculative, from hundreds of movie downloads within a second, to sensory interfaces in smart glasses that seem just like real life, to wired networks becoming obsolete with information traveling instantly across swarms of mobile device antennas.
But the bottom line is that 6G holds the promise—and threat—of “everything connected all the time” that prior generations of mobile technology have not delivered, writes MITRE’s Andrew Thiessen, head of 5G/xG engagement and Sam Visner, technical fellow and former director of the National Cybersecurity Federally Funded Research and Development Center.
In a recent op-ed, they offer steps the United States must take now to ensure that next‑generation technologies are developed around principles that embrace human rights, such as privacy, and prevent authoritarian regimes from using technology to repress and manipulate citizens.