- Apr 11, 2020
Huawei is looking down the barrel of a change in the US Entity List regulations which could cut it off from Taiwan’s TSMC, its primary fab. The details are still unclear, but the in-coming change in US law may mean that Huawei can no longer manufacture the leading edge chips it designs and uses in its smartphones and 5G infrastructure at TSMC or, effectively, anywhere else in the world worth the mustard.
- Nov 25, 2019
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Mild strokes aside, this is often true. Certainly, Huawei seems to be doing more than OK. And more broadly, looking across China’s semi sector, things are booming. That’s what the Q3 results suggest at least. Far from slowing Huawei down or making Beijing reconsider its “Manufacturing 2025” ambitions, the results reek of US firms being designed out of the supply chain, an accelerated roll-out 5G plan and domestic tech advancement.
- Aug 10, 2019
Here’s the set up of this book, Architects of Intelligence (2018): Journalist Martin Ford interviews a couple of dozen geeks working on AI. Here’s the thing I worried about: the book would just be full of speculative chit-chat on the impact of AI on jobs and the dangers (or not) of paper-clip-making AI monsters. The relief: every conversation gets around to that, but thankfully, Ford allows his interviewees space to discuss the way forward in AI research in a serious, mostly understandable-for-the-AI-novice way too.
- Feb 08, 2019
Just finished Billion Dollar Whale. A great - and awful - read. Great: Tom Wright and Bradley Hope have done a fantastic job of telling an intricate financial tale (tho’ the endless, unbelievably-bling parties do help lighten up all the scheming). Awful, as the scale of corruption is appalling. A few very scattered thoughts:
- Jan 20, 2019
Yep, the most delayed ‘best books of 2018’ blog post in the multiverse. Stop what you’re doing, turn off that Twitter feed and order these damn books already. It’s not too late! They’re the best I read in 2018 (and, I know, I was late in getting around to some of them). In no particular order…
- Jan 20, 2019
God Almighty, the folk at Quanta really are amazing. This is a selection of their essays on (mostly) physics (they are a bit obsessed with quantum-gravity, but who isn’t?) and CRISPR-related biology. The essays go up online - which is where I first read a few of them - but a book is good as it helps me concentrate.
- Jan 12, 2019
In which Wright argues that the US must reassert a robust defense of the liberal world order. He criticizes President Obama for his ‘retrenchment’ foreign policy (which is a fashionable view these days, and while the Asian “pivot” was weak, it seemed to me that Obama’s Middle East was pretty good, given the mess he inherited), and thinks Trump a disaster. Wright, a Brookings scholar, argues that we should stop arguing about China’s ability to be Global Number One, and focus on the European & Asian regional orders.
- Dec 16, 2018
Two fabulous movies, two directors casting their illuminated eyes over their own countries’ recent pasts, and two women, who figure out, finally, how to survive the useless men they love. Mexico City in the early 1970s, in black and white, and Datong, China coal country, in the 1990s and today, in drained colour. And our heroes, Jia Zhangke and Alfonso Cuarón.
- Dec 08, 2018
I tend not to write about my day job here, but given Huawei is, err, somewhat in the news, and I have not seen a good explainer about how the firm might be vulnerable to a possible US Department of Commerce Denial Order, I thought this short note might be useful.
- Dec 03, 2018
The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang
- Nov 11, 2018
Jeffrey Lewis might offer this as a “speculative novel”, but the terrifying thing - as he explains - is that every move in the plot of how North Korea launches 13 nuclear-tipped ICBMs at the continental United States - is highly credible. The 2020 Commission Report is written half as a Senate autopsy on how the conflict happened, and half as an on-the-ground thriller, mad-Trump antics and all. Its also nicely rammed full of geeky missile detail, as one would expect from the publisher of armscontrolwonk.com. You think Alaska’s Ground-based Mid-Course Defense (GMD) system - meant to blow up missiles as they glide through space - actually works?
- Jun 10, 2018
Three times surely cannot be a coincidence, can it?
- Jan 28, 2018
OK, so here are some of the best books I read last year.
- Jan 02, 2018
Just reading Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0. Its a great overview of where we are with AI and our world. Not so detailed on how AI algorithms work, and certainly not as technically informative as his awesome Mathematical Universe (see Books of 2015), but broad, conversational and thought-provoking on the impacts on society. He is sure a thoughtful fellow.
- Oct 02, 2017
Franklin Foer manages to land a fist or two on the belly of today’s Internet giants in his new short book ‘World Without Mind’. But not anywhere close to a knock-out blow, not even a decent face-shot. He’s winded them, basically, a bit. Maybe in this age of click-bait and fast-reads, it won’t ever be a single book which makes the definitive case against Google, Amazon and Facebook. Its going to take several rounds, several fighters - ha, who I am kidding, its going to take the internet swarm to properly take them on - an unco-ordinated movement of investigators, activists, tweeters, protestors, reporters, politicians, and judges. And the regulation that results will do some good and do some bad - and their dominance will likely still grow. And that won’t be wholly for our ill, I suspect.
- Jul 31, 2017
It struck me the other day that my favourite film ever is Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I’m not sure where the idea came from. It just kind of - appeared.
- Sep 03, 2016
I just read Mark Landler’s fantastic “Ater Egos”, the story of US foreign policy through the Obama-Clinton years. Its fast-moving, grounded in interviews and revealing stories (Kurt Campbell filling his Air Force One swagbag with momentos and then getting chased across Yangon airport by the Secret Service), and is smartly nuanced. Syria, Russia, Cuba, Burma, China, Libya also star, of course, none without huge historical depth, but that’s OK. For each we get the Obama and/or Clinton approach, and all told we get two interwoven, but different foreign policy doctrines.
- May 20, 2016
Here’s a question for you: Is it possible to sin in hell? When everything around you is already damned, and where everyone rides in the same ash, can you sin? If I had to guess, I’d say unlikely. There’s no innocence to stain. There’s no white sheet to bloody. You are just smothered, permanently, with suphured air. Sin? Forget about it; no one fucking cares.
- Feb 14, 2016
I was interested in what Google Trends trends might be able to tell us about the US primaries. Thought it would be good practice for my basic R skills.
- Feb 06, 2016
The story of how Wall Street blew up the world economy, one mortgage derivative semtex brick at a time, and the guys who caught a whiff of the explosive and went looking. This is venality on a trillion dollar scale - you end up hating bankers and credit raters more than you did walking in - and its told with a rare flare. Awesome clip coming up.
- Jan 17, 2016
Boy, I really love book lists. But since I’ve never written one, I thought I’d give it a go. Here’s my top eight for 2015.