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China reportedly let AI control a satellite, which then observed rivals India and Japan

Plus: Warren Buffett’s TSMC worries; CHIPS Act bits China; Japan’s quantum investment; and more

Asia in Brief China’s State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing (LIESMARS) has reportedly allowed artificial intelligence to control a satellite.

A South China Morning Post report cites a paper published in the journal Geomatics and Information Science of Wuhan University that claims the LIESMARS team let AI run Qimingxing 1, an experimental remote sensing satellite.

The paper apparently reports that the AI decided to have a look at parts of India that are home to an Indian army unit involved in recent border skirmishes with Chinese forces, and a Japanese port that occasionally houses visiting US naval vessels.

Just why the AI was interested in either target is unknown, given that Chinese media have previously reported that Qimingxing 1 is an experimental craft for use by Wuhan University students.

- Simon Sharwood

Analyst: Chip companies to cool on China for a decade

The USA’s CHIPS Act will see semiconductor companies avoid China when considering investments for a decade, according to semiconductor-centric analyst firm TrendForce.

“The scope of restrictions in this updated legislation will be far more extensive than the previous export ban,” TrendForce stated last week. The firm added that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) had been the foundry most affected foundry affected by updates to the CHIPS Act, as it already had plans in order to expand into China.

SK hynix, Samsung and Micron each plan expansions in South Korea, a nation TrendForce predicted will grow global share of DRAM manufacturing capacity as China’s falls.

Meanwhile, China’s share of global NAND Flash capacity is expected to drop from 31 percent to 18 percent by 2025.

“Demand for DRAM and NAND Flash are in the same boat; many US companies have begun restricting production regions for memory and storage products or are requiring foundries to move their production facilities out of China to avoid geopolitical conflicts,” said TrendForce.

The firm predicts a bifurcation of the industry, with Chinese factories primarily focusing on meeting domestic demand, and non-Chinese factories serving other markets.

South Korea seeks closer ties to Boeing

South Korean industry minister Lee Chang-yang met with Boeing Defense, Space & Security CEO Theodore Colbert last week to advance the prospect of partnerships between the aerospace giant partner and local companies.

A proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) reportedly included joint R&D on aerospace semiconductor projects, digital manufacturing and urban air mobility systems.

Lee also reportedly dangled tax benefits and other incentives before Boeing, which plans to expand its facilities in Seoul into an R&D hub.

Warren Buffett worried about the T in TSMC

Famed investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, last week explained why the holding company he leads acquired a stake in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), then quickly sold a chunk of its shares.

In an interview with Japan’s Nikkei, Buffett responded to a question about geopolitical tensions in Taiwan being a reason for the sale.

“That is certainly a consideration,” Buffett responded. “But Taiwan Semiconductor is the greatest business in the field by a huge margin. The management is good. But is there a difference between that being located in Omaha, Nebraska, and in Taiwan? Yes.”

- Simon Sharwood

Japanese government funding quantum computing cloud platform

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is investing $31.7 million over five years in a quantum computing collective to expand shared quantum computing through a industry-targeted cloud platform, reported Nikkei Asia.

The collective’s 17 participants are led by the University of Tokyo and so far include Toyota Motor, Mitsubishi Chemical and Mizuho Financial Group.

Tencent reveals colossal cluster

Tencent last Friday released a new generation of High-Performance Computing Cluster designed for large-scale-model training.

Local media has claimed it is the most powerful large-scale model computing cluster in China and three times more powerful than the previous generation.

India finance minister calls for globally coordinated crypto regs

India finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman called for greater acceptance of globally coordinated crypto regulations among the Group of 20 member countries, according to Reuters.

Xiaomi’s smart necklace

Chinese consumer tech giant Xiaomi has given the world a smart necklace. The company last week announcedthe eighth version of its low-priced “Band” wearable, which can now be worn on a necklace rather than on the wrist, and apparently still record health data. The Register tested the Band 6 and found it a decent entry-level wearable.

- Simon Sharwood

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included news that Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation announced it is investing in Raspberry Pi to advance edge AI.

Alibaba Cloud revealed a custom large language model which it plans to incorporate in everything from the cloud to smart speakers.

Google faced fines in South Korea of $32 million for anticompetitive practices levied at local app store OneStore.

Russia imported over $1.2 billion of technology in 2022 despite international sanctions, by using China, Hong Kong and the UK as intermediaries.

Chinese tech giant Baidu sued Apple over fake copies of its ChatGPT analogue.

Beijing released proposed regulations for AI chatbots that unsurprisingly requires them to conform to socialist ideals.

Tencent reportedly demoted and fired tech bosses after its popular social platforms WeChat and QQ experienced an hours-long outage.

Speaking at a conference in Singapore on Thursday, pilot turned CISO Serge Christiaans argued that improving cybersecurity needs a shift from a “blame” culture to a “just” culture, a move already achieved by the aviation industry. ®

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