Inside Taiwan’s ‘Sacred Mountain’ of Chip-Making

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Lauren Goode: Yeah. This is what Kara Swisher calls, assisted residing for millennials. Here—

Virginia Heffernan: Assisted residing for millennials.

Lauren Goode: —on the San Francisco tech corporations. Yeah.

Virginia Heffernan: It’s excellent. But I did say, I mentioned, “So wait, do they get any perks here?” to at least one of the folks in HR. And they mentioned, “Oh yeah. They get, let’s see, 10 percent discount at 7-Eleven and 10 percent at Burger King.” That’s one other one they get, 10 p.c at Burger King. I simply love 10 p.c. 10 p.c!

Lauren Goode: At good outdated BK. And you drank the 7-Eleven espresso, and it was completely, you wrote, completely potable.

Virginia Heffernan: It was completely potable, and particularly when you already know that the man’s gotten it for 10 p.c off. I imply, it was a greenback and it was 90 cents, and I tasted each cent.

Michael Calore: Nice.

Virginia Heffernan: So the tradition of absolute precision and obsession contained in the fabs, after which this aesthetic that I heard referred to as “chabuduo”—it is adequate, no matter outdoors the fabs. No one talked in regards to the meals. No one mentioned the place we must always get something, go to eat. No one swept me off my ft for some farm-to-table factor. It was simply mediocre, bizarre flatbreads from Starbucks or this factor at 7-Eleven. I simply obtained so used to it. I imply, my baggage had been misplaced anyway, so I needed to put on these garments I obtained in a mall and it was type of possibly an Old Navy-ish, seconds—the stitches have been type of incorrect and I simply gave into it. I used to be like, “Right, save your energy for the heavy thinking and the heavy lifting and trying to understand this engineering and drop off the lifestyle part of things.”

Lauren Goode: Meanwhile, American engineers would say that, that tradition is extra like a sweatshop.

Virginia Heffernan: That’s it. They have mentioned that. We simply opened, you in all probability know, TSMC opened a subsidiary fab, nice fanfare, however Joe Biden was there in Phoenix, Arizona, and it goes into manufacturing subsequent yr and in Taiwan, once more, off the file, I’m identical to, “They’ll never handle it. They’re babies.” And because it’s taking place, some of the coaching engineers are already saying, “This is a sweatshop. We can’t do it.” And there’s a component of racism within the description of like, “Oh, this work is so monotonous.” Well, it is monotonous the way in which that it is one thing’s monotone if you do not have good-enough listening to to listen to the variability, the symphony within the word. And I really feel prefer it’s a failure.

Lauren Goode: What do you imply by that?

Virginia Heffernan: Well, simply as we will not see the electrons and the atoms which are the work of lithography, we will not hear the wealthy selection and imaginative potentialities. I do know I can not. I’ve to have them defined to me in doing atomic constructions. Apparently, it seems identical to making an umbrella on a line to American engineers, when to them it is no better privilege, no better privilege. I imply, they have been speaking about their work, I’ve by no means heard folks speak about their work this fashion. I imply, possibly like a poet or a painter who someway makes a residing off it. No resentment. These are billionaires. I mentioned, “Where do they live?” And somebody was like, “Oh, I don’t know. A condo over there.” No way of life. One of the heads of the corporate works in his church. One man, one other billionaire who developed this specific photolithography, had simply mounted his personal roof. He’s 80. They play tennis. They put on just about the identical garments every single day, very gentle on their—simply gentle, versatile, imaginative, enjoyable, not rushed. I imply, I left and I went there fascinated about Elon Musk like all of us are. And I simply got here away pondering, “He’s just not an engineer. It’s not a tech company.” I can’t think about one of these guys who’s like, “Here’s my day. Be with my wife, check in on my children, go to my church and do some volunteer work. Go and study the face of God under an electron-scanning microscope with someone else equally interested in it, and know that I’m doing the right thing. Play a couple of rounds of tennis with a graduate student and go home and fix the roof, and then make a nice meal.” In a reasonably modest setting, after which there are folks with 10 wives who marry Grimes and are on Twitter, and we expect—

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