The 5g Network and a Dinosaur’s Brain

A rather charming myth that explained why dinosaurs had the brains of walnuts was that because of all that distance from head to toe, a brain could not literally communicate quickly, so a second brain evolved in the dino’s keister to expedite behavior. So, what was the point of the tiny brain evolving if what we had here was a failure to communicate? It all had to do with latency, the fact that quick reflexes need a nervous system a bit more proximal to the threat, like the jaws of a T-Rex. Having a brain up your posterior is a somewhat limited way of solving the problem, because being where it is, it is limited in the ways it can grow or evolve. Better to place it up and behind the tip of your nose, where all animals keep them. However, it is true that all animals have clusters of nerve cells in place, or ganglia, that can keep up with the needed reflexes that help with rudimentary responses to rudimentary problems, like an eye blink or a knee jerk. But if you need something well, more thoughtful, you simply got to have a brain.
For us human folk, up to now computer systems have served as a sort of extensible ganglia, good to do rudimentary number crunching to balance the books, tell the time, and keep our schedules. Until lately these systems have been kept in a closet, basement, or room somewhere in a company’s corporate keister. Presently, they are being moved or at least duplicated to remote data centers, or the ‘cloud’, a position where, given more rack space and storage, it is allowing them to evolve to do the heavy duty lifting or thinking to take on real problems.
However, this is an easy prediction, since we have been there before, as a species that is. The apex of animal nervous systems began life as ganglia, and later evolved into functional brains, and now we are seeing computer ganglia literally move up that ladder and evolve the same way.
But like the dinosaurs of old, to survive cruel evolutionary pressures and meteor storms, that little brain has got to grow up. To replace the role of a mediator of mere knee jerk reactions, a brain needs not only the space to grow, but to communicate quickly, reliably, and with the ability to send the necessary amount of data back and forth, or with the suitable bandwidth, to know its world and respond effectively to it. That’s why to get ahead, animals need to get a head.
For the computerized brains that run businesses, that has not been possible, due to the distances that is, and they have kept our computer systems where they belonged, up their corporate keister. Like its cousin the dinosaur, the cloud until recently has had a tiny brain, good enough to stream videos, connect you with friends, give you weather reports, provide internet searches, you know, reflexive knee jerk stuff. To grow up, it just needs a better way of communicating to all those ganglia down there.
Enter the 5g network, now being rolled out across the country by telco providers such as ATT and Verizon. A 5g network is a cellular communications network that has low latency, high bandwidth, and universal availability. It provides an electronic nervous system that allows computer ‘brains’ to evolve, and since they have the copious rack space to do so, that is precisely what they are doing. And what is the promise of 5g? As the cellular giants would tell you, it’s all about providing knee jerk reactions to a bunch of stiffs. It’s just the internet you’ve known and love, doing the things it always has done, but just doing it a lot faster and all over the place. In a sense, people become like ganglia, replaceable clusters of nerve cells that can’t be totally trusted to do all the heavy lifting. And so, with emergent cloud brains like IBM’s Watson, who can come here when you want them, and even when you don’t, soon we will not need to know how to balance our books, do our taxes, drive a car, and even fight a war. It’s a terminator it seems to human usefulness, overcoming human resistance, but killing them with kindness, not with nukes. It will be a brave new world, just leave your human brain at the door.