@HPCpodcast-42: Chris Miller on Chip War

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Chris Miller, author of the important and riveting book Chip War, joins us to discuss the crucial nature of the semiconductor industry and and the global competition that has been a part of its history since early days. He is Associate Professor of International History at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Eurasia Director at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Chip War has been shortlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year award.

We had a long list of topics and questions:

  • How did we get here? Was it poor risk management, shear complexity, or too many black swans?
  • The impact of political dysfunction, social polarization, and policy inconsistency on waging such wars.
  • Might Western values and standards of privacy and individual freedom a competitive disadvantage in the age of AI where raw data superiority can lead to economic superiority?
  • Has technology shifted from a situation where it’d be used first in govt/military, then companies, then consumers to now, when it’s the reverse: the consumer market, then companies, then government?
  • How much time is there to regain competitiveness? Why did the US not learn its lessons after Japan’s rise in memory chip fabrication technology? Is there something missing in the public-private partnership model in the US?
  • Is supercomputing its own race or is it subordinate to the bigger tech issue?
  • Was there a lost opportunity to formulate a different, more harmonious, world order?
  • What is the impact of current trade barriers? What options do other countries have?
  • Several of the leading cast in the book seem to have had challenging personal journeys before they became prominent. Is that a coincidence or a requirement to build a world-leading semiconductor company?! Can it be that it is an effective way to instill the kind of discipline and culture that is required to succeed in the chip business?

And we got through most of them.

Join us for this fascinating discussion.


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