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The Taiwan election and its AI implications
The Taiwan election and its AI implications | GZERO AI

The Taiwan election and its AI implications

Taylor Owen, professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University and director of its Centre for Media, Technology & Democracy, co-hosts GZERO AI, our new weekly video series intended to help you keep up and make sense of the latest news on the AI revolution. In this episode of the series, Taylor Owen looks at the first election in Taiwan and the implications it could have for the future of technology, including AI.

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Terry Gou, a 72-year-old billionaire and founder of iPhone maker Foxconn, campaigns for his presidential bid in Taipei

Eyepress images

Terry Gou says China can’t pressure him. China says ‘Watch us.’

Terry Gou is the billionaire founder of electronics giant Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple iPhones in mainland China, and he’s one of Taiwan’s richest men. Gou has historically supported the opposition – and China-friendlier – Kuomintang, or KMT. But he recently announced that would run independently for the presidency, taking on KMT candidate Hou Yu-ih as well as more hawkish candidates.

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Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen

Reuters

President Tsai Ing-wen visits last African state that recognizes Taiwan's independence

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is currently on a diplomatic visit to Eswatini, the country’s last remaining ally on the vast African continent. The southern African country is hardly a natural ally for democratic Taiwan: King Mswati III has ruled the landlocked country of 1.1 million with an iron fist since he assumed the throne in 1986 at age 18. It’s the region’s last absolute monarchy.

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Terry Gou, Foxconn founder announces bid for Taiwan presidency during a press event in Taipei

Reuters

Foxconn founder joins race to become Taiwan’s president

Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn, has thrown his hat in the ring for Taiwan’s presidency – making waves in an election that will have wide-ranging implications for the Western Pacific. Having failed to win the opposition party’s nomination, Gou will run as an independent focused on taking down the ruling Democratic People’s Party, which he blames for the increasingly fractious relationship between Taiwan and China.

But ironically, Gou’s candidacy makes a DPP win more likely in the January 2024 election by pulling votes away from the other two candidates hoping to beat DPP nominee, Vice President Lai Ching-te.

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Voter intention for Taiwan's presidential poll in 2024.

Ico Oliveira/GZERO Media

The Graphic Truth: Taiwan's surprising third-party challenger

Taiwan goes to the polls in January 2024 in what is likely the most consequential presidential election since the self-ruled island embraced democracy in 1996. As usual, the vote will be all about ... China.

Looking to replace term-limited President Tsai Ing-wen are VP William Lai, from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and Hou Yu-ih, a former top cop nominated by the opposition Kuomintang Party. The DPP and the KMT have always dominated Taiwanese politics, with the former taking a tougher line on relations with the mainland. But this time a third-party candidate wants to give them a run for their money.

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Human rights activists demand the safe return of Ricardo Lagunes and Antonio Díaz, community defenders who disappeared on January 15. Mexico City, Mexico, January 22, 2023.

Photo by Luis Barron / Eyepix Group/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Environmentalists targeted, World Bank outlook improves, mass shooting in Louisville, fiery cocktails in Northern Ireland, Winnie-the-Pooh gets punched

24: This year alone, at least two dozen environmental activists have already been murdered or disappeared in Mexico and Central America, according to an investigation by The Guardian. Many are from indigenous communities protesting against mining activities on their traditional lands.

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Sri Lankan Commando Regiment members in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

What We’re Watching: Sri Lanka’s shrinking military, mass shootings in America, McCarthy’s Taiwan visit, a common currency pipedream

Sri Lanka’s military downsize

In its latest bid to cut the economic fat, Sri Lanka's government announced that it will downsize its army, aiming to reduce the number of military personnel from 200,783 to 135,000 by next year and to 100,000 by 2030. Sri Lankan defense officials say the army is restructuring in order to boost its tech capabilities, primarily in cyberspace. But analysts highlight that this is part of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pledge to slash the bloated public sector, a precondition to unlocking a $2.9 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Crucially, military salaries make up around 37% of public wage costs. Cash-strapped Sri Lanka defaulted on its external debt for the first time in May 2022, after years of economic mismanagement led to acute fuel and food shortages – and forced Colombo to borrow heavily from India and China. With the bulk of Sri Lanka’s defense spending going to salaries rather than investment in equipment, this plan presents an opportunity for the country to correct its balance sheet. But some critics worry that Colombo, facing an internal terror threat, could be moving too hard too fast.

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Semiconductor manufacturing.

Annie Gugliotta.

The semiconductor battle is heating up

Global semiconductor supply chains have some big resistance points that threaten to make microchips a macro-geopolitical flashpoint. On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden will visit Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC’s facility in Arizona, where he'll spotlight the White House’s efforts to ramp up US chip manufacturing amid the US-China chip race.

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In technology, as in geopolitics, a little resistance can make all the difference. Consider semiconductors, the nearly invisible microchips essential for running everything from our computers to our cars to our cruise missiles. They work by doing something deceptively simple: They use carefully calibrated resistance to slow the flow of electricity through a circuit in ways that make computing possible. The smaller they get the more powerful our devices become.

The trouble is, global semiconductor supply chains have some big resistance points of their own, choke points that threaten to make microchips a macro-geopolitical flashpoint.

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