The Ugly Exploitation of 5G Fears

The Covid-19 pandemic has proved to be a fertile breeding ground that has brought together disparate groups, including anti-vaxxers and the anti-5G movement, on any platform they can find to share their conspiracy-based views. One of the most prominent claims is that 5G technology spread the coronovirus, even though 5G is not available ‘everywhere’.

Before that became a widely shared theory, we already knew that those who don’t want to see 5G launched had been pushing out information about the alleged dangers of 5G. We were all about to be ‘wi-fried’ by it, and children would be particularly vulnerable. I’m not here to debate the claims of the anti-5G movement, but I would like to alert people to one of the dangers that this kind of scaremongering can produce: the opportunity to be scared into buying into a health scam.

A Forbes story by John Koetsier illustrates it perfectly. It concerns a ‘5G Bioshield’ that is being sold for $350 per unit. The USB stick boasts features such as “quantum oscillation” and “restoring coherence of atoms” as well as “emitting life force frequencies.”

This is what the company selling it claims on its the website:

“Through a process of quantum oscillation the 5G BioShield USB Key balances and reharmonizes the disturbing frequencies arising from the electric fog induced by devices, such as laptops, cordless phones, wifi, tablets, etc., The 5G BioShield USB Key restores the coherence of the geometry of the atoms, which allows a perfect induction for life forces, by (re-)creating a cardiac coherence, via plasmic support and interactivity.”

It sounds like the answer to all those fears about the health damage that 5G is purported to inflict. It must be a very special USB stick to do all the above, must it not? You’d like to think so for $350.

The expert analysis

But when Pen Test Partners reviewed the stick’s properties, it “revealed nothing more that what you’d expect from a regular 128MB USB key,” states its blog. And they went on to say: “Usually with USB devices, one can look at the properties and it will list the manufacturer and extra information about the device. However, we found that all the default values remained. This is often an indication of cheap, unbranded devices.”

So, basically it is a $6 USB stick being sold for $350. Furthermore, the founders of the 5G Bioshield don’t appear to exist. Koetsier says, “A search for “Dr. Ilija Lakicevic,” listed on the website as one of the founders of the company, turns up nothing on LinkedIn. A search for him on the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, where the 5G BioShield website says he worked, also turns up no results.”

Have they sold any? Yes. To the city of Glastonbury in the UK, which issued a statement saying, ““We use this device and find it helpful.” It is also worth mentioning that other health protection used in Glastonbury include Shungite, a mineral which is said to have healing powers that one “healing crystal” company says “span the board from purity to protection.”

Whether you agree with the theory that 5G is a health danger or not, I expect you can agree that paying $350 for a $6 product is quite simply — exploitation!

Elon Musk hogs the headlines again!

Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur, is making headlines again. Over the last week, we’ve had the controversy over the naming of his latest offspring, his nmother-in-law condemning his ‘red pill’ tweets, and now, unable to stay out of the press, he has slammed the Federal Reserve’s coronavirus stimulus package.

Musk claims that US fiscal policy has become “detached from reality,” and that it should be viewed in sharp contrast with “bitcoin’s looming supply squeeze,” as reported by Billy Bambrough. Now, Musk has gone a step further, according to Bambrough in Forbes, where he quotes the entrepreneur as saying “the central bank currency issuance” is making cryptocurrency bitcoin look “solid by comparison.”

Harry Potter and the Bitcoin Blockchain

Rather bizarrely, Musk’s latest statements came in response to a query from Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling about how bitcoin works. The two are prolific Twitter users, and this is where the conversation took place on 15th May.

Rowling tweeted, “People are now explaining Bitcoin to me, and honestly, it’s blah blah blah collectibles (My Little Pony?) blah blah blah computers (got one of those) blah blah blah crypto (sounds creepy) blah blah blah understand the risk (I don’t, though.)

In reply, Musk told her Bitcoin looked solid by comparison with the currency issued by central banks, and said that he still owns 0.25 BTC. Cointelegraph stepped into the fray, and tweeted, “I think wveryone is just waiting for you to send them to the moon Elon,” which resulted in some comic responses in the form of Buzz Lightyear memes.

However, it seems nobody was able to convince Rowling about bitcoin, as she later tweeted, “I’m just about able to grasp a barter system. Talk of collectibles, tokenomics and blockchains and my brain just takes a walk.”

Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum then stepped up to provide the creator of wizards with his explanation, and Neeraj Agrawal, of Washington-based cryptocurrency policy think tank Coincenter, really tried to get Rowling to understand it by saying it was “magical Internet money.” Tyler Winklevoss objected to this, replying bitcoin was not ‘magical’, it was the US dollar that could be described that way.

J.K. Rowling may not have been convinced by the responses of the various cryptocurrency heavyweights, but as Bitcoin Magazine tweeted,

“Dear Diary, Today was a wild ride for #BitcoinTwitter.”

AI and the Disruption of Big Pharma

Right now there is a lot of focus on Big Pharma for obvious reasons, so it was with interest that I read an article in Forbes by Alex Zhavoronkov about the pharmaceutical industry’s rather slow approach to using artificial intelligence (AI) when it is already very much a facet of less life-and-death services, such as Netflix movie suggestions.

Significantly, Zhavoronkov says, “Experts suggest that the pharmaceutical industry remains one of the most inefficient industries, a last holdout against technological disruption.” It’s curious is it not, that a sector that is all about scientific advancement should be so behind the times?

According to the article, “the efficiency of the industry has been on the decline since the 1950s. Just as an example, it now costs over $2.6 Billion to bring a drug — or a New Molecular Entity (NME) — to the market.” It’s a high cost, and then there are the costs related to the failed drug trials to factor in as well. Eventually, you and I pay for it all.

But AI has potential to perform a role in small molecule drug discovery, and we need to understand its potential and its limitations, especially in relation to the way that the pharma giants have traditionally gone about finding new drugs.

Zhavoronkov comments: “The process of small molecule drug discovery includes several steps: the scientists form a disease hypothesis, identify a target, design a molecule and then conduct pre-clinical studies takes on average five years and may cost hundreds of millions of dollars.” Then it takes another five years of clinical development and testing phases, which mean more expenditure.

AI might look like the perfect solution to reduce costs, and with all the Big Data available, surely it can help pinpoint marketable drugs. But, Zhavoronkov says:“Despite the many advances in technology that have led to major disruptions including mobile and personal computing, the Internet, and genome sequencing, the cost to develop a drug is steadily increasing.”

The pharma sector apparently remains sceptical about its uses: “they prefer to incrementally develop internal capabilities across the entire spectrum of the drug discovery process instead of making big bets on specific enabling technologies.”

Zhavoronkov remains optimistic about the future of AI in pharmaceuticals, and identifies the key to its success as “a massive integration of the systems used to identify biological targets, systems that help design novel molecules, and systems that personalize the treatments, and predict the clinical trials outcomes.” As he concluded that “The recent COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the impotence of today’s traditional and AI-powered approaches, as seen when attempts to repurpose other drugs to treat Covid-19 did not really produce any promising candidates, and a “lot more work needs to be done in AI and laboratory automation to significantly accelerate drug discovery.”

The 5G Conspiracy Theorists Making Money Out of Covid-19!

If you have been following social media during this pandemic, and it’s hard to avoid it, you may have noticed that conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus are multiplying like weeds.

The general consensus is that it leapt to humans from a bat, or a pangolin, but even the leading scientists have questioned what was initially assumed about Wuhan’s wet market as being the source.

But the conspiracy theorists aren’t content with that. It’s not exciting enough for them presumably, plus was there ever a better opportunity for them to jump on all the social media channels and announce the ‘truth’!

One of the most prevalent theories is that the virus is related to the rollout of 5G Internet technology. Apparently, while we are all in lockdown, new 5G towers are being installed while we’re not looking. That’s just one aspect of it. The other is that the 5G technology is responsible for spreading the virus worldwide?

How could technology do this? Well, according to the conspiracy, there is no virus. The images you have seen of people dying in hospital beds is part of one big hoax. Instead it is 5G technology that is causing the symptoms.

Another variation of the conspiracy theory asserts that radiation from 5G can weaken your immune system to the point that you are more easily infected by COVID-19. After all, the same people have been saying for months that 5G will basically fry your brain.

It’s hard to imagine, is it not, that all the medics, nurses and scientists have been colluding in an elaborate illusion, just to ensure that we think people are ill or dying from the virus?

The conspiracy theorists work from the rather basic principle that since Covid-19 started in China, and so did the 5G rollout, which apparently means 5G is the real source of the worst pandemic any of us have seen. Some have even tried to create timelines connecting the emergence of radio waves in 1916 as the precursor of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, and to connect the introduction of 3G with SARS and 4G with swine flu, before we get to 5G.

Even some news broadcasters have pandered to the idea, showing maps of %G tower installations and claiming there are more Covid cases in these areas. However, this doesn’t support 5G as being the cause. There may be many other factors in those areas contributing to the number of infections, primary among them socio-economics and population density.

And in other fake news, somebody tried to claim that the new Bank of England £20 note features a 5G tower and a symbol for Covid-19. Apart form the Queen, it features the artist J.M.W. Turner. The ‘5G tower’ is actually Margate Lighthouse, a favourite place of the artist, and the so-called Covid symbol represents a staircase at Tate Britain, which houses many of Turner’s works. Just so we’ve cleared that one up.

That hasn’t stopped people from vandalising 5G towers and attacking telecoms workers in the UK and elsewhere. As Forbes contributor Bruce Y. Lee says, “In fact, these 5G-COVID-19 conspiracy theories has gotten so rampant that U.K. government officials actually have had to take time to discredit such theories, which is a wonderful use of time during a public health emergency.”

Making money from the 5G conspiracy

Of course, somebody is benefitting from the 5G conspiracy: Ryan Broderick at Buzzfeed says people are paying $350 for a USB stick that is a ‘bioshield’ against 5G. The vendor, Jacques Bauer, “falsely claims protects people from 5G radiation by converting it into beneficial radiation.” And there are others who have jumped on the same bandwagon, as Broderick rightly names and shames them.

It’s consumer abuse at any time, but while people are dying in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, it is utterly disgraceful to capitalise on people’s fear in this way. In the months to come, people will want answers about how this pandemic truly unfolded, and I’m willing to bet that the experts won’t say, “It was 5G.” However, like the anti-vaxxers (a lot of the 5G conspiracists belong in that camp as well), those who are convinced 5G caused Covid-19 will probably not go away. The best thing we can do is to ignore them.