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Press Release: Research Institute for Democracy, Society and Emerging Technology (DSET) 2024 Annual Forum – “Taiwan in Tech Geopolitics”

Photograph of our center’s researchers and esteemed guests at the inaugural ceremony. (Photo credit: The DSET.)

The DSET Annual Conference, entitled “Taiwan in Tech Geopolitics,” convened today at the Public Administration and Business Management Education Center of National Chengchi University. DSET convener Dung-Sheng Chen articulated that the center’s objective is to furnish concrete policy recommendations to the government concerning emerging technologies, national security, and geopolitical matters. Presently, DSET has disseminated numerous research articles and reports online and has forged significant collaborations with both domestic and international think tanks. These partnerships encompass exchanges and visits, workshops, and the joint authorship of research reports, thereby projecting Taiwanese perspectives to the international community and governmental bodies.

Konrad Young: Taiwan Confronts Geopolitical 2.0 Risks and Must Nurture Interdisciplinary Expertise

Professor Konrad Young, the former Director of Research at TSMC and a current consultant for DSET, will deliver the keynote address at the annual conference. Entitled “The Development of Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry Amid Geopolitical Dynamics,” his speech will explore the origins and evolution of the semiconductor industry both globally and within Taiwan. Additionally, he will examine how years of talent cultivation and industry development have positioned Taiwan’s wafer foundry sector as an essential component of the international semiconductor landscape.

Professor Yang observed that Taiwan is still susceptible to the geopolitical dynamics of the U.S.-China relationship, which he termed “Geopolitics 2.0.” Specifically, the United States aims to mitigate the risks associated with manufacturing in Asia. Taiwan should proactively collaborate with the United States, capitalizing on American strengths in creative research and development while Taiwan concentrates on manufacturing. He underscored the imperative of avoiding mutually destructive conflicts. Despite increasing political divergence between China and Taiwan, the significance of the Chinese market remains undeniable. Domestically, Taiwan grapples with issues such as declining birth rates, environmental protection, and an imbalanced talent market, all of which necessitate proactive interventions. There should be a diversified approach to industrial development and talent cultivation across various countries, sectors, and generations.

DSET Bolsters Its Expertise by Appointing Wu Tsung-tsong and Lee Hsi-ming as Advisors

At this annual meeting, convener Dung-Sheng Chen announced the appointments of former National Science Council director Wu Tsung-tsong and former Chief of the General Staff Lee Hsi-ming as advisors to the Decision Sciences and Emerging Technologies Center (DSET). Their respective backgrounds are expected to enable the center to broaden and deepen its areas of focus.

Wu Tsung-Tsong, a graduate of the National Taiwan University Department of Civil Engineering, is currently an Emeritus Professor at the National Taiwan University. He has previously served in numerous prestigious positions, including President of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Deputy Convener of the Executive Yuan’s Science and Technology Advisory Group, Minister of Science and Technology, President of the National Applied Research Laboratories, Chairperson of the respective committees of the National Science and Technology Council, and Minister without Portfolio in the Executive Yuan.

Lee Hsi-Min, a graduate of the 66th class of the Republic of China Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College, currently holds several prominent roles. These include Visiting Fellow at the Project 2049 Institute in Washington, D.C., Strategic Advisor to the National Defense University, Executive Director of the Taipei School of Economics and Political Science and the Security and Strategy Studies Center at National Tsing Hua University, and Adjunct Professor in the Asia-Pacific Doctoral Program at National Chengchi University. His previous positions encompass Chief of the General Staff and Deputy Minister of National Defense. He is the author of the book “Taiwan’s Winning Formula: An Asymmetric Strategy for a Small Power to Defeat a Larger One, A Comprehensive Defense Concept that All Taiwanese Should Understand.”

Convener Dung-Sheng Chen presents the advisory certificate to former National Science Council Chairperson Tsung-tsong Wu (Photo source: the DSET).
Convener Dung-Sheng Chen presents the advisory certificate to former Admiral Hsi-Min Lee (Photo source: the DSET).

Experts: Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry Maintains an 8 to 10-Year Lead; Urged to Formulate Strategic Narratives with Partners

The forthcoming annual conference will explore three primary themes: “Semiconductors,” “AI and Cybersecurity,” and “Technology, Society, and National Security.” The inaugural session, entitled “Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry and Economic Security Amid Technological Geopolitics,” will be presided over by Professor Dung-Sheng Chen, the convener of DSET and a scholar in the Department of Sociology at National Taiwan University. The keynote report will be delivered by DSET researcher Jeremy Chih-Cheng Chang, with ensuing discussions by Professor Konrad Young, Terry Tsao, Chief Marketing Officer and Regional President of SEMI Taiwan, Ray Yang, Research Director at the Center for Industrial Development of the Industrial Technology Research Institute, and Kristy Hsu, Director of the Taiwan-ASEAN Studies Center at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research.

The opening session meticulously examined the advancement strategies of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, emphasizing the challenges arising from government subsidies and the US-China chip conflict. Jeremy Chih-Cheng Chang highlighted that since 2018, nations have integrated economic security within their defense, foreign, and economic policies. In response to the intensifying global large-scale subsidy battles, Taiwan must safeguard its technological assets through market-driven development. This entails preventing companies from rashly disclosing commercial interests and restraining the outflow of technological expertise, ensuring that Taiwan remains a dependable and credible international partner. Konrad Young concurred, noting that subsidies will persist as a significant issue, and described them as “the worst investment.” Ray Yang advocated that Taiwan’s semiconductor industry should maintain its leadership for the next 8 to 10 years, after which global cooperation will become essential to integrate security measures within the semiconductor ecosystem. Both Terry Tsao and Kristy Hsu emphasized that amidst geopolitical challenges and the reorganization of the industrial chain, Taiwan should cultivate an international narrative, suggesting that think tanks such as DSET could assist the government in strategic planning.

After an introduction by Research Fellow Jieh-Min Wu from the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica, this year’s conference featured Professor Mi-Yong Kim, a former Senior Reviewer at the Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce. She provided insights and engaged in discussions regarding the role of export controls in maintaining technological leadership. Professor Kim articulated that sustaining a leading position in critical technologies forms a cornerstone of U.S. national security policy, with export control serving as the principal policy instrument, as epitomized by the U.S. CHIPS Act. Additionally, she observed that other nations are also beginning to implement export control measures. Consequently, she recommended that Taiwan draw lessons from the U.S. experience by employing distinct review mechanisms for allies and non-allies. She stressed that “China is not the only competitor; every country is a competitor.”

This event is an annual presentation of the DSET’s research outcomes. Each group has consolidated its accomplishments into a report (photo credit: The DSET).

Scientific Examination of Information Distortion: Safeguarding Existing Rights within Legal Structures

The second session, titled “The Resilience of Democracy in the Age of AI,” was presided over by Director Wen-Ling Tu of the DSET. Presentations were delivered by our center’s research fellows, Kai-Shen Huang, and Billy Zhe-Wei Lin, alongside Deputy Director Muyi Chou. The discussion featured the participation of Allen Own, CEO of DEVCORE; Isabel Hou, Secretary-General of the Taiwan AI Academy; Hui-Ju Tsai, Assistant Professor at the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University; and Vakau from Access Now, facilitating an interdisciplinary dialogue. The session focused on identifying AI-manipulated information, analyzing real-world examples of election influence during this year’s presidential election, and proposing both defensive and responsive strategies.

Kai-Shen Huang emphasized that resolving controversies concerning the identification of information manipulation is the most critical issue in current research. While democratic societies uphold the values of freedom of speech and political diversity, Huang asserts that “the assessment of information manipulation is a scientific endeavor,” and scientific methodologies should be applied to address highly politically sensitive matters. Billy Zhe-Wei Lin referenced four instances from the recent election wherein generative AI was utilized for information manipulation, including the “Ko Wen-je audio clip, the Lai Ching-te Chunfeng project informant, fabricated videos of a U.S. Congressman, and the so-called secret history of Tsai Ing-wen.” Lin observed that generative AI is chiefly employed to create content and to develop channels for disseminating manipulated information. He forecasts that similar techniques will proliferate in the future, thereby complicating the detection process. Muyi Chou noted that the government, the public, and platform operators have already started to respond to and counter information manipulation. Nevertheless, generative AI’s capabilities may cause the public to become complacent, and the self-regulation of social media platforms remains insufficient. Consequently, he advocates for the enhancement of media literacy and the establishment of regulatory accountability for social media platforms.

Hui-Ju Tsai noted that the Taiwanese media can no longer effectively serve as gatekeepers against misinformation. Furthermore, the transformation of communication channels and the dissemination of information across various platforms have further diluted the media’s role. Isabel Hou remarked that the challenge of cognitive warfare lies in its perpetuity, describing it as “an unending conflict.” Consequently, enhancing collective resilience through media literacy is essential. However, she underscored that in the process of formulating new regulations, it is vital to safeguard freedom of speech and uphold democratic principles. “We must be careful not to discard essential elements while making changes,” she warned, stressing that the relevance of existing laws should be preserved.

Emerging Technologies Present Challenges and Opportunities: Taiwan Poised to Capitalize on the Transformation Opportunity

The concluding session, titled “Cross-Era Emerging Technologies: Military-Civil Technology, Net Zero, and the Future of Quantum Technology,” was presided over by Deputy Director DSETH Sien-Ming Lien. Researcher Jerrel Chunkuei Lai led the military-civil technology group presentation, with additional insights provided by Chen Ming-chi, Executive Director of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research. The dialogue concentrated on the potential of Taiwan’s technology to influence a non-Red supply chain. Jerrel Chunkuei Lai discussed Taiwan’s development of drones through the strategic framework of “one plan (IC Creation Plan), two models (Longitude Latitude Model, Coretronic Model), and three de-Reds (eliminating the Red supply chain, redefining no-fly zones, and mitigating the talent gap in drone operation).” He emphasized that future advancements could capitalize on existing strengths in chip development and electronic compasses. Nevertheless, he also highlighted challenges such as China’s strategic patent filings and Taiwan’s issues with talent development. Chen Ming-chi proposed that the Ministry of National Defense could address combat needs through venture capital and progressively establish an industrial ecosystem while extricating from the Red supply chain.

The Net Zero Technology Group, through a report authored by Researcher Roger Chifeng Liu and commentary by Chen Yen-haw, Director of the First Research Institute of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, examined Taiwan’s potential for inward and outward transformation in response to challenges posed by China’s advancements in electric vehicles, photovoltaics, and critical minerals. Roger Chifeng Liu highlighted the flexibility and experimental nature of China’s green energy development, which promotes green initiatives via new energy projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. This approach, he noted, has gained significant popularity in regions such as India, Sri Lanka, and Laos. Liu proposed that Taiwan should capitalize on its strengths in artificial intelligence and semiconductors to innovate its energy and net zero strategies. From another standpoint, Chen Yen-haw underscored the necessity of integrating technology into societal frameworks. He portrayed the net zero objective not merely as a challenge but also as an opportunity, emphasizing that the essence of sustainability lies in “responsible use.” Chen advocated for businesses to align with international initiatives to foster organizational involvement in the transition to net zero and to develop unique green products to leverage transformative opportunities.

The Quantum Technology panel was chaired by Researcher Rebecca C. Fan, with participation from Research Technician Eric Yen of the Institute of Physics at Academia Sinica and EntangleTech CEO Ran-Yu Chang. The panel addressed strategies for bolstering Taiwan’s national strength through the adoption of emerging technologies. Rebecca C. Fan highlighted that quantum technology is not yet industrialized and underscored the importance of Taiwan placing a strong emphasis on cultivating talent. This entails addressing the current talent concentration in the semiconductor sector, fostering the quantum technology industry through market engagement, and expanding democratic security. Ran-Yu Chang articulated a vision where teacher training programs enable high school educators to spark student interest in quantum technology, thereby cultivating and retaining Taiwan’s inaugural generation of quantum experts. Eric Yen emphasized that in addition to quantum technology, the core competencies of emerging technologies should be grounded in “application, innovation, and knowledge.” These competencies should be developed to align with the specific requirements of various countries to contribute to sustainable development for humanity and the planet, ultimately addressing shared global issues.

Group photograph of the attendees (Photo credit: The DSET).

Media Liaison

Senior Analyst, Research Institute for Democracy, Society, and Emerging Technology

Fang-shuo Fu

fidelfoo@dset.tw

+886 912-348326

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