The Most Amazing and Dangerous Technology in the World


Advanced semiconductors are the building blocks of modern life. They make the cars, phones, and computers that define our lives possible. But, as Chris Miller notes in his new book ‘Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology’, they are also at the heart of technology rivalry between major powers. This precarious state of affairs is centred on one single Taiwanese company – Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) – that produces 90% of advanced chips and a sole Dutch firm – ASML – that produces all of the world’s EUV lithography machines essential for them.

Yet these conditions have enabled governments to influence how the semiconductor industry operates. In October, the Biden administration introduced a prohibitive ban on the export of advanced chips and their corresponding production equipment to China. Similarly, the Biden administration has since signed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, offering a $52 billion investment geared towards re-shoring U.S. chip manufacturing. Meanwhile, China has already invested billions of dollars towards the establishment of their own domestic semiconductor industry.

The American podcast host Ezra Klein had Miller on his show to better understand semiconductors, what they mean and their implications on the global political sphere. Miller’s insight on the industry provides a crucial context to comprehend why chips have become such a hot topic in the 21st century. Additionally, Miller has published a list of book recommendations for those interested in the subject.

With the ‘Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology’ focusing on the importance of Asia-led semiconductor supply chains, It shows why an Asia-centric perspective on the chip war is essential for any meaningful resolution to the geopolitical tensions prevalent in the chip market today.

TSMC, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, is the world’s leading semiconductor foundry. TSMC has invested almost 30 years and $210 billion in large fabs, making semiconductor products with world leading R&D capability. They have a proven track record in microfabrication, and have translated this expertise into the most advanced chips available. The company is a global supplier, and their products are used by many of the world’s biggest technology companies, including Apple, Huawei, and Qualcomm.

Chris Miller is an American historian and the author behind the book ‘Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology’. Chris has researched a wide variety of topics and civilizations, from the US Civil War to the French Revolution, and from the Roman Empire to modern politics. As part of his current research, Miller has explored the crucial role semiconductors and chip fabrication play in the evolution of geopolitics, as well as their relationship with current superpowers like China and the United States. Miller’s works focus on how to best adapt to the new geopolitical climate arising from the ‘Chip Wars’.