Huawei left Master-Slave relationship aiming for friend status.
Huawei has just announced that it will make its 5G source code available to any buyer or licensee of its technology.
On closer look, one sees it already does that.
Analysis by Micheal John
Real coders know this and whenever they wish to modify the kernel of their cell phone operating system; unlock their phones; or change the features of a router; they go here to find their unit’s source code and then rewrite the aspects they wish to alter. It is as transparent as can be. But don’t expect a politician or a corporate money manager to understand the programming code.
Looking at the source code, anyone who can read it can see what calls are made to other nodes and what if any data is stored off the device.
The spy story the US Trump administration pushes down the throats of its allies is only about lack of due diligence and about American insecurity. There is no security threat. (American corporations pose the greatest privacy issues to America.)
The USA is trying to knock off a competitor using unfair and dishonest practices.
FPMag in the series “Don’t let go of your humanity.” argues that Trumpism and its trajectory through society over five years has induced subtle, compounding divisiveness and violence.
Think of the cheap workers in horrible working conditions, including child labourers that the West has exploited in order to cut costs and put more money into executives pockets. How are they doing now?
Let’s look at the hatred and conspiracy against Chinese firm Huawei Technologies in that context.
Conrad Black in an excellent article posted 13 September in the National Post asserts that essentially Huawei robbed now defunct Canadian tech giant Nortel (founded 1895) presumably in the days when Nortel comfortably began to allow Huawei to take over much of its product engineering.
Another way to look at this is that for Nortel, exploiting cheap Chinese labourers became too easy. Benefiting from enormous savings and profits while depriving thousands of Canadians of good jobs, Nortel engaged Huawei as its manufacturer in a highly competitive industry. It did so for questionable gains. Why did Nortel not spend the savings on research and development?
Huawei did not break Nortel. That company killed itself. Huawei learned from rudimentary humble beginnings that every step taken must lead past tomorrow.
Nortel executives put more money in their pockets and inexpensive Chinese labourers sweated in factories for little pay while many Canadians stood in the unemployment line.
This is confirmed by former employees who talked to the CBC in 2009. They were outraged at what they say was corporate greed. While Nortel bumped executive salaries, employees were fighting in courts to get their pay or their pensions.
Whereas Huawei was a build-to-print parts producer for Northern Telecom which exploited Chinese workers to get millions of telephone parts on the cheap, it gave up nothing in the way of technology to Huawei until it gave Huawei the engineering work for much less cost than doing the work in Canada.
Was that exploitative to a whole new level of greed? Who is the bad guy?
Did Huawei deliver the best possible outcome for its employees? Yes. Did Nortel? No. Bad Management at Nortel? Undoubtedly.
The Nortel failure story is just another boring chapter in the analogue-to-digital transition that left many firms in the dust choking on their own greed and bloated corporate structure having failed to invest heavily in research and development for the next chapter of their existence.
A 2014 research report by the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa concluded among other things:
Nortel served a North American-centric market and relied heavily on a small number of customers that were forced to reduce their orders as a result of global recession.
Nortel’s competitive advantages were in a declining market (wireline) and in saturated markets (optical).
Nortel invested heavily in a growing market (enterprise) but with a differentiation of high product quality and reliability (five nines 3 ) that was not as valued within this market. Carrier quality and procedures in an enterprise market led to significant delays in new product releases.
Nortel had early technology leads in an explosive market (wireless) but consistently bet against emerging global standards and failed to achieve differentiation while at the same time the wireless market became more commoditized.
Nortel invested heavily in worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMax), which was divested in later years.
Nortel focused on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) rather than on Global System for Mobiles (GSM) to serve less than 20% of the market (i.e., North America) when in fact GSM had emerged as the global standard with an 80% share of the market.
The company did not commercialize Long Term Evolution (LTE) despite an early technology lead and successful deployment tests. Read the report here: nortel-summary-report-and-executive-summary
If one really wants to talk about Canadian engineers getting screwed, look at the Avro Arrow and the 13,000 brilliant workers who were sent home on black Friday late in the 1950s. It’s a whole other story about blindly stupid politicians and corporate executives.
How could anyone have believed that analog devices and miles of clicking electromagnetic relay switches would be around forever?
It didn’t last forever but the venerable 6L6 (circa 1935) has had one of the longest active lifetimes of any electronic component, more than 70 years. Cite: Wikipedia
Mr. Black is not a technologist hence he might have missed an aspect his venerable readers might have picked up on if they had passed through that era as technologists.
The case of Meng Wanzhou
Conrad Black strongly suggests that Canada should not be holding Sabrina Meng, the CFO of Huawei and allowing her extradition to the United States because she will not get a fair hearing in America, consistent with Canadian standards. Nothing could be more true. The USA goes after Meng based on some serious wrong-mindedness and total unfairness. That’s not Canada.
Somebody should tell Trudeau that Canadians are not suited to going along with America’s meta-violence.
The article in the National Post raises a question of reversing the master-slave relationship between have and have-not countries FPMag would like to explore for humanitarian reasons.
There is no doubt about the succinct validity of Black’s conclusion:
“We [Canada] should require the release of Canadians improperly detained in China, warn China that we will shut our market to them if they commit such outrages again, and release Meng Wanzhou.”
When are we using technology and labour that are lifted?
Android is based on a kernel of the open source operating system of Unix-like Linux which has been developed by thousands of open source programmers who worked for free. Google is not the inventor of Android. It is the borrower of Linux.
Facebook is written on a platform based on pre-processed hypertext protocol (PHP) which is the product of thousands of open source developers who worked for free following Rasmus Lerdorf’s introduction of the idea in the early 1990s. Before that, Larry Smith’s PERL (Practical Extraction and Report Language) and early versions of compiled C language were the mainstay of developer programming for the internet.
The earlier beginnings of Information Technology
Most information technology programming is rooted long ago on accomplishments of a group of people who developed technologies during WWII.
They formed communities in the post WWII era, like Amateur Radio Operators (Hams) and computer technologists and engineers. They sought to improve technology, fix bugs and basically do more with their knowledge and special talents.
They built massive experimental computers using electron tubes like the 6L6G with a 6.3 volt filament circuit heating the cathode and 100 to 5oo volts on the plate (anode). Actually, they were much more efficient than the equivalent power transistors that even today generate heat lossiness to the tune of 50% efficiency. But they don’t require the space nor the bulky power supplies. Rows and rows of 6L6s and other vacuum tubes built the early IBM and Russian computers that managed nuclear weapons systems and their delivery.
In the 1960s vacuum diodes, triodes and pentodes became semiconductor devices. Progess went fast from there.
The semiconductor diode like the IN34A changed the world. One could build a computer diode matrix the size of a breadboard instead of the size of a small house.
The commercialization of the early discoveries of amateur computer scientists is where politicians and greedy industry moguls changed the course of history.
If for example the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the USA (DARPA) wanted to use university scientists’ or amateur computer scientists’ discoveries, it either hired the inventor or it stole the technology after declaring it to be a national security issue.
That’s not too different to what the USA is doing to Huawei today.
Notwithstanding, America got off to a brilliant start. It then forgot what launched its success. Research and development was everything. Knowledge and special talents for learning were replaced by greed for money and political power.
Research and Development Usurped by Greed
For a long time in the postwar (WWII) era, America did all the right things to advance its technological prowess and lead the world in development. But that changed as America’s greed grew.
The era of easily obtained “good and plenty” obviated the attributes that bred technology advancement. If that were not true, the oil industry would not have bought out and buried all the brilliant alternative fuel concepts that would have radically changed the automotive sector and forced the greedy barons of the automotive and fossil-fuel sectors to release their cash for research and development and retooling an entire industry. It didn’t happen.
But the countries where America was exploiting the people as cheap labour to build components for companies like Texas Instruments and Intel watched, waited and learned.
At some point, and many people argue about when, America curtailed its investments (as a percentage of total revenues) in research and development in order to reduce costs and increase profits. Greed prevailed.
Research and Development plus a Quest for Know-How
The Cheap Labourers became Smart Leaders
America slid badly in technology for a long time while at the same time, Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, India and even Thailand surged ahead. Leading the pack were Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean technology giants.
America has plenty of control over Japan and South Korea and takes what it wants from these countries.
But America has no control over China. It uses every device imaginable to spy on China including fake NGOs. That tactic has lent itself to a couple of Canadians being held by China.
Nonetheless, Chinese tech giants are enormously advantaged by having a captured market of over 1.4 billion people. Hence no matter how much technology has been “borrowed” from China, it advances at a howling rate of speed. Huawei has an enormous customer base for beta-testing and feedback. It can beta-test new concepts faster than any company in the world.
Huawei beginnings were crude unlike every other surviving tech giant.
At one time, Huawei had only cheap labour and a huge domestic market to offer. Today it has the best technology minds in the world, a better environment for systems and device engineers plus a huge domestic market for product evolution.
Yes, at one time Huawei was a common licensed manufacturer offering the benefit of cheap labour–nearly slave labour.
Clearly, Five Eyes coders don’t know if they are punched or bored.
It shouldn’t be true that management in any bureaucracy has disdain for programmers, but let’s be honest, who the hell listens to a C++ coder in any large organization, like the CIA, CSIS or spy agencies in any of the Five Eyes nations? What’s more likely is that they are ignored or pressured to say outrageous things like “Huawei is spying on everyone”.
It simply is not true.
“Google, Facebook, Twitter and a few other American behemoth’s are mining everyone’s information. [‘We know because we wrote a lot of the code.’]
It should be noted that Facebook and Twitter are unscrupulously all about making money.
Facebook’s executives might all meet again in hell if there is such a thing and if what most governments in the world are saying is true. Otherwise we have all been wrong about the distinction between right and wrong or good and evil.
Google on the other hand does make an enormous effort to protect the user’s information but without user’s personal data, Google would not exist. It is not a search engine it is an excellent advertising platform. But it is using the data that individuals, institutions and companies allow it to use in order to make its money. Google is not a value-added producer of anything yet but it is working in that direction. Better things may lie ahead. Meanwhile it primarily takes your data and sells that data.
Behind the scenes, what consumers never see.
American social media is so corrupted that if a real person used their real full name, their email address, their phone number and their date of birth on Facebook, they are screwed.
Any script kiddie can become them and take out bank loans, credit cards and breach the national secret’s act all in the name of the victim. There are so many millions of occurrences it is taking banks decades to catch them–maybe never. Fortunately for the consumer, insurance companies stand between the victim and total financial ruin, sometimes.
Everyday there are tens of millions of attempts by criminals to test stolen credit card numbers against charity donation platforms says one of the major credit card processing firms in Canada.
Meanwhile consumer insurance rates are through the roof to pay the costs of such financial shrinkage plus the cost of programmers and technologists inventing ways to defeat the fraud while fraud artists do the counter action.
“Certainly the victims are stupid for ignoring the warnings,” a leading programming guru once said to me as a group of programmers stood outside one night shift watching the stars and wondering what would be next. We were all writing programming code blocks for one of today’s biggest internet advertising giants. Remember that social media and search engines do not function well doing their intended purpose because they are all advertising platforms focused only on generating net profit income from advertisers to whom they sell user-submitted data.
That person’s sage warning was bang on. The public warnings about internet safety have always been there. If one talks to a person who says that they refuse to use internet banking or anything online that exposes them, they have met a rare exception to the aforementioned group of users and the widespread trust that is erroneously placed on platforms like Facebook.
Huawei in this world where the master-slave relationships reversed.
The former Huawei build-to-print no-technology slave labour plant in Shenzhen, in southeastern China, is now a modern technology leader headquartered in a metropolis that links Hong Kong to China’s mainland and Hong Kong to the world.
Any way you look at it, Huawei was a comfortable and accessible place for exploitative corporate giants like Nortel for example to obtain millions of small circuit boards for millions of analogue telephones built cheap by Chinese laborers in a master-slave relationship.
The Tide Has Turned
Huawei Technologies today has dozens of research centers around the world. has spent over $15 billion dollars in research and development. The firm has filed over 53 thousand patents in 2018 alone.
Huawei is the only company that provides complete 5G solutions. Huawei did not steal its technology from someone else. It has developed its own technology just as it did the engineering for Nortel’s products.
It is no less true that Huawei has been in the past a build-to-print supplier of simple and complex components to large manufacturers. That means that companies like Canada’s Northern Electric (a.k.a.: Northern Telecom and Nortel) shared detailed blueprint information about its technology.
So what was that Nortel technology?
- Some cool diode matrices that required enormous circuit board real estate, but mostly mechanical electromagnetic relays that filled football-field sized spaces.
- Mostly analog.
- Useless today except for some aspects of their being impervious to spurious and deliberate electromagnetic pulses.
- Discrete components mounted on crude epoxy circuit boards in circuits that were not smart by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s hard to explain why the skill of being able to read data from the banded colour code on a resistor or inductor or to calculate the C, I, or R of millions of components needed in complex circuitry is quite worthless today. The IT sector taught computers to do that years ago. Nortel never kept up.
Some of the switching technology and associated algorithms of Huawei’s build-to-print era were interesting but not complicated and not too difficult to figure out. Today all that filled huge rooms years ago can be mounted on the head of a pin.
Why was the build-to-print era so worthwhile for the West’s cheap-labour slaves in Mexico, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and China? Because they learned from this work what was needed next.
That’s what Huawei did. Huawei engineers put Nortel on the head of a pin. Nortel went out of business while feeding cash to its executives right up to its last sputter.
China Needs Help not Hate
Watching the Hong Kong situation has been instructive. Formerly trending in an alarming totalitarian mode, Beijing has possibly begun to listen to its people and listen to the world.
Government for the people and by the people is a process that should not be painful. Why is it so hard for Beijing to figure out? Communism doesn’t work?
How a nation of 1.4 billion people governs itself is ONLY for that nation to say. But global values and human development must fit universal concepts that are unfettered by the various biases in which the world is embroiled. Human dignity and human rights are paramount. Maybe nothing matters as much?
America has mistreated China in many ways. In other ways it has correctly acted to serve the interests of its own public. Things could not continue the way they were going.
Can the master-slave relationship become friendship?
This is what civil society is aiming for. Since the days when the West exploited cheap labour of poor workers in unbearable working conditions, much has changed for the better.
What is happening now is that the rate of change is accelerating faster than our leaders can manage. Those who are failing, like Trump, must be replaced.
In any case, Canada should require the release of Canadians improperly detained in China, warn China that we will shut our market to them if they commit such outrages again, and release Meng Wanzhou.