Keynote speech: Irrationality for the Semiconductor Industry
IP SoC Days Shanghai, China
M. Depeyrot

September 19, 2014

Contemplating the last 50 years takes us back to California, more precisely to Stanford University and to the year 1964, three years after Carl G. Jung’s death in Switzerland, founding father of the psychology of cultures and our best guide to the deep unconscious.

Over the sixties, pioneer Fairchild Instruments sired Semiconductor start-ups over “the Valley” around Stanford University, which staffed their research teams with engineers skilled in design and fabrication of MOS Silicon Gate transistors.

1964 is the year when my thesis advisor Michael Arbib published his book on “Brains, Machines and Mathematics”. Neurosciences then were emerging at the same time as the psychology of Transaction Analysis and the Semiconductor Industry.

As we wish to believe our industry to be driven by rational moves, it is worth pondering some of the seeds of the sixties or soon after, which are worth tracking for their irrational impact on our semiconductor industry to this day.
Not that being rational would be equated with goodness, versus irrational with evil, but they rather are related respectively with being less risky, versus unsafe.

Let us start by distinguishing three kinds of irrationality:

  • individual irrationality, which may be due to insufficient breath of knowledge, to the dominance of emotions, to some lack of conviction, etc.
  • while an industry is concerned with collective or corporate irrationality, which may be caused by the fear of competition, by stampedes due to the need to track fads, or to irrelevant financial rules imposed by investment actors, etc.
  • and partnerships are mired by relational irrationality, beginning with the cultural differences in negotiating styles, all too clear between Occident and Orient, etc.

There is much to gain from a better awareness freeing us from what may be blinding, or what may be more likely leading us to wrong moves.

Let us review a diversity of issues, where some encompass technological mastery, some have to do with marketing savvy, others with financial skills, and all of them require improvements in both reasoning and intuition.

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