It’s not AI.
AI is software which runs on hardware. Hardware may be software, but it must be manufactured to implement the software.
The makes the most important technology in the world EUV.
Extreme UltraViolet lithography (EUV) uses high frequency ultraviolet light to etch circuits on silicon chips. It’s important because, as circuits grow closer, the wavelengths of visible light become too wide to etch with them.
A Dutch company, ASML, was the first to perfect EUV lithography. Creating a microprocessor with an ASML EUV system isn’t that simple, either. Taiwan Semiconductor was the first processor maker to do it. (The manufacturing process is more straightforward with simpler chips, like memory chips.) Intel is also working on adapting EUV, and their “roadmap” includes EUV chips with line distances measured in Angstroms, one-tenth of a nanometer.
The new Cold War with China has EUV at its heart. ASML isn’t allowed to export its gear to China. Chinese chip makers are several generations behind the West as a result. Moore’s Law marches on, but not everywhere.
If China renounced violence over Taiwan, this Cold War could end and EUV will become freely available. But at this point even Xi Jinping’s word may not be assurance enough for the West, so embedded has the idea of “One China” become, despite a complex history including occupation by, among others, the Dutch.
Given the processing requirements of large language models, chips made using EUV are essential. That’s why Nvidia is now worth $1 trillion. Taiwan Semiconductor is their manufacturing partner. It also helps that the CEOs of both Nvidia and AMD, which is beating Intel in microprocessors, are Taiwanese immigrants. Both are from Tainan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tainan, the island’s capital until 1887.
If you want to understand today’s tech, and its global tensions, forget AI. Think about EUV. And think about Taiwan.