What happens when a false belief collides with reality? This is the question of our time. Do you shift course and change or double down or continue on as though nothing has happened? Does wealth and power allow you to change the laws of physics or biology? What happens when the majority of people have accepted a reality and you are now not only wrong, but in the minority? What happens when denial is no longer an option?
It’s easy to point to politicians and business leaders who are challenged by reality. It’s much harder when this situation appears in your own life. What happens when a reality undermines your identity in the world? Will you listen, even when the answer is something you don’t want to hear? Will you be able to change your mind, even though you have invested your time and money? Will you take a stand to prevent others from being harmed? Will you resist change even when harm to yourself is inevitable? Or have you even lost the capacity to change at all?
There is a train wreck about to happen in Silicon Valley as two grand ideas collide with reality. Larry Page from Google and others are making plans to focus on health and how to extend human life. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan have asked the question, “Can we cure all diseases in our children’s lifetime?” and have pledged $3 billion dollars toward that goal.
Another inspiring goal in Silicon Valley is to bring Internet access to everyone on the planet. The goals around health and Internet access both seem incredibly empowering at face value. The conflict between them only appears when you re-evaluate the false assumption that wireless technology is safe, and you read the mounting evidence of harm, the thousands of studies that have been amassed over decades by hundreds of researchers around the world.
A truly safe technology would not cause damage to DNA. It would not increase free radical damage or contribute to an increased risk of cancer. It would not negatively impact sleep or the nervous system. It would not open up the protective blood brain barrier. It would not increase inflammation, a factor in all chronic disease. Published studies have found all of these effects, and many more.
Finding this evidence and reading through it is hard. But what makes this truly challenging is seeing evidence that this harm has been known for decades by the US government, well before cellular technologies were licensed and sold to consumers . Some of the companies even tried to “wargame” and confuse the science, something that even tobacco companies did not attempt to do. A Harvard ethics paper has been written on this topic.
It is clear that some people have known about this harm for decades, but most people in Silicon Valley are completely unaware of it. So, what will happen the day that Larry Page gets this information from one of his health care researchers at Calico Labs? Or if he types in a Google or Google Scholar search and finds published research about the detrimental health effects of wireless? Will he realize that Google’s plans to use wireless in the US and in balloons around the world is in direct conflict with his goal to extend human life?
What will happen the day when Dr. Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, reads the American Academy of Pediatrics latest recommendations to reduce wireless exposure for children? What will she tell her husband Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who is developing drones to provide wireless coverage to the most unreachable corners of the planet?
What will Elon Musk do when he discovers that one of the biggest challenges of getting to Mars (shielding astronauts from the health impacts of ionizing cosmic radiation) is not much different from protecting Solar City customers from the radiation emitted by smart meters, wireless solar monitors, and solar power inverters? Will he change his proposed rollout of SpaceX satellites to provide worldwide Wi-Fi coverage?
The hardest parts of this problem are not technical. They are the same patterns of attitudes and beliefs and ego that have plagued humans for as long we have existed.
I don’t know what these individuals will do. I only know that accepting this was hard for me, and I hadn’t made public commitments to billions of people or invested large amounts of money in this endeavor, as Page, Musk, and Zuckerberg have. I can only hope and pray, that they will make wise choices. That their high intentions for humanity will continue and they will muster the courage to face the hard reality that these exposures are harmful. That they will help make Internet access safer than it currently is and eventually completely safe. And in the end, that we will share information and empower each other without sacrificing our health or the health of our children.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Pledge $3 Billion to Fighting Disease - The New York Times
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Pall, Martin L. "Electromagnetic fields act via activation of voltage‐gated calcium channels to produce beneficial or adverse effects." Journal of cellular and molecular medicine 17.8 (2013): 958-965.
Glaser, Zorach R. Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena ('Effects') and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation. NAVAL MEDICAL RESEARCH INST BETHESDA MD, 1972.
Captured Agency: How the Federal Communications Commission is Dominated by Industries It Presumable Regulates by Norm Alster