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Girding for War, Taiwan Must Also Invest In Its Economic Future

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake:
As Taiwan braces for a possible takeover by China, it must simultaneously ensure it can build upon decades of economic gains in semiconductors and services.

Taiwan is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. It is preparing for two mutually exclusive futures, one of which is the preferred option and the other a fearful possibility it is hoping allies can help it fend off. The island could preserve its democratic, peaceful and prosperous existence or slide into the tortuous unknown of a military confrontation with China over Beijing’s demand for reunification with the mainland.

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Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan's former Minister of Science and Technology.

Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry Must Look Outward

By Judith Cheng

Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan’s former Minister of Science and Technology, has proven to be a genuinely rare leader among Taiwanese officials. What drove Chen was not his political ambition. Rather, it was his passion for science — rooted in his own engineering background — that made Chen a uniquely qualified and vocal policy maker.

Chen earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from National Cheng Kung University in 1979, 1981, and 1986, respectively. Add to those credentials dozens of U.S. patents. Chen is also the longest-serving Minister of Science and Technology. During his more than three-year tenure (February 2017 to May 2019), he earned the moniker, “King of Ideas”. Chen’s management style differed sharply from politicians and policymakers. For instance, he wrote weekly internal emails designed to encourage more collaboration among civil servants. He also encouraged research in AI and promoted entrepreneurship, aiming to accelerate the transformation of Taiwan’s electronic industry from hardware to full-stack systems.

Read More »Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry Must Look Outward
Apple CEO Tim Cook at the opening ceremony of TSMC's Arizona fabs. (Source: Apple)

The Tangled Triangle of Biden, Apple and TSMC

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
TSMC’s Arizona fabs are often portrayed as a necessity to help TSMC achieve much-needed global diversity in manufacturing. Meanwhile, Apple plays patriot by investing in “a stronger, brighter future” for America. To accept that picture as a reality is naïve. The real issue is what price the U.S. government will pay to curry favor with Tim Cook and Morris Chang during a must-win economic war with China.

The opening ceremony of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC)’s first Arizona fab in December was, by any industry’s standard, an epoch-making event.

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Back to the Future movie

HU’s in Charge Here?

By David Benjamin

According to “The Jetsons” and Back to the Future 2, we should all be cruising around—by now—in flying cars.

We’re not.

According to Silicon Valley and a flock of “visionary” carmakers, people should not be manually driving cars at all, because those beauties can drive themselves.

But they’re can’t.

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graceful exit from TI

Time for Templeton of TI to Make a Graceful Exit

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake:
By staying on as board chairman at Texas Instruments after stepping aside for a new CEO, Rich Templeton will still be involved in decision making. His continued presence could prove difficult for TI in the long term.

Texas Instruments Inc.’s decision in 2018 asking Richard Templeton to reassume the titles of president and CEO scrubbed plans for his gradual separation from the analog IC and embedded processor supplier. With the appointment of a new CEO, Templeton and TI’s board should seize the opportunity to cut that cord immediately and permanently, for the sake of everyone involved.

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Taiwan Strait and TSMC

What’s Plan B if TSMC is Shut Down?

By Ron Wilson

What’s at stake:
If the political confrontation over Taiwan collapses into military confrontation, major U.S. companies would lose access to the advanced chip processes upon which their leading products and their roadmaps depend. There are workarounds, but they are not easy, quick, or cheap.

What if it all goes wrong across the Taiwan Strait? Growing antagonism with the U.S., increasing political and economic pressure inside the People’s Republic of China, simple accident—there is a significant, if unpleasant, chance that combat could occur in Taiwan. And given the parties involved and their interests, Taiwan’s industry and infrastructure would certainly be casualties.

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What Tesla claimed in an opener of its promotional video, "Full Self Driving Hardware on All Teslas," released in Oct. 20, 2016

Tesla Deposition Exposes Disregard for Human Drivers

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Tesla is envy of its rivals. That makes a deposition by Tesla’s chief Autopilot software director required reading. His testimony highlights the company’s modus operandi that permits reckless beta roll outs of automation software, enabling the faulty assumption that infallible human drivers will be able to correct mistakes made by vehicles. Distancing themselves from Tesla isn’t enough. It’s time for every car manufacturer to step up and make safety a priority.

Investigations into business or political wrongdoing often lead reporters to top executives, about whom they poise the inevitable question:  “What did he know, and when did he know it?”

But in the case of Tesla, there’s no reason to bother Elon Musk. The question is already asked and answered.

Read More »Tesla Deposition Exposes Disregard for Human Drivers