Taiwan’s Tech Hubs Take Advantage of Disasters

After Japan’s earthquake and Thailand’s floods, firms are building backup manufacturing sites

2 min read

Apart from causing human tragedy, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 and the floods in Thailand later that year were a test of the global technology supply chain. That supply chain turned out to be vulnerable to local events, which in turn has made having backup manufacturing infrastructure much more valuable. Now Taiwan is positioning itself to become a major backup production base for Japanese firms involved in the electronics supply chain.

In 2011, the Taiwanese government assisted 25 investment deals involving Japanese firms valued at NT$107.9 billion (US $3.66 billion), and the government projects many more in 2012. It’s quite a turnaround. Japan accounted for one-third of foreign direct investment in Taiwan in the 1980s, but its investments dropped to 11 percent over the past decade.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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