Artificial Intelligence: Super-Exciting, Ultra-Competitive

Swimming in the humongous volume of information and data (clean or dirty) is a challenge. A heightened challenge we face is that volume continues to grow and become increasingly complex. Will we miss some guiding information and useful data that we can use to our advantage? Will this overwhelming volume of data reach an unmanageable level? And how will we leverage technologies to make it manageable and useful and gain a competitive edge in a timely fashion?

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become common everyday words; however, the present reality and future potential are yet to evolve (Figure 1). As a result, there has been sheer excitement about evolving intellectual and dexterous capabilities to improve our lives, businesses, and security; meanwhile, there has also been trepidation about unknown and unintended consequences.

Fig1-Hwang-Sep2018.jpg

Figure 1: AI will impact a multitude of fields, including education, business, and military.

Platform

AI is expected to intake data through ML to analyze data, create a model, and make decisions based on that data. AI is also expected to create model-based learning and modify it with new data. It should be a system that is driven by data and will offer the ability to learn and react based on a generalized strategy-for-learning by using algorithmic models. By so doing, new insights are beneficially generated without relying on rules-based computing programs.

The ability to incessantly chew through any amount of data and unlimited combinations of variables and parse data, capture knowledge, and make a deterministic or predictive model makes ML surpass human capacity. Being unconstrained by preset assumptions of statistics can also allow ML to surpass human analysts by making predictions with higher degrees of accuracy.

As a result, wherever there are too many potential combinations and too much complexity, ML can be a potent tool. And an AI system, whether it emulates human performance or replaces humans on the execution of routine or non-routine tasks, can facilitate decision-making and process automation.

Another beauty is that the machine is sleepless and works 24/7. Machines are free of time zones and independent of geographical territories in performing data collection, aggregation, algorithms, and processing power, which has enabled AI and will continue to make breakthroughs. A variety of applications have employed AI to different extents, ranging from financial services to business operations and military prowess.

In business, AI and ML can apply to every function of doing business. They are going to play an impactful role in business intelligence and analytic solutions by creating the expertise to rapidly transform learned data into action to create competitive advantages. AI will also help IoT data analyses in data preparation and discovery, predictive analytics, and geospatial information gathering. One example is to develop management processes that build the most effective teams of judgment-focused humans and prediction-focused AI agents.

Fig2-Hwang-Sep2018.jpgFigure 2: Military AI applications in urban environments.

In military, emerging technologies will shape the next generation of war. For instance, through human-agent teams and advances in AI, soldiers will provide commanders with real-time information about the adversary, which can be gathered from a variety of different sources. Army robotics give individual soldiers the capability to control swarms of robotic systems for missions that often require large numbers of troops to accomplish. A single soldier could conduct reconnaissance over large areas with dozens of robotic systems, which would be especially important in conditions such as dense urban environments. The exceptional challenge with urban environments is that everything takes substantial manpower to overcome and control. Intelligent teaming and robotic systems can have significant impacts and tactical advantages to deliver integrated cross-domain capabilities in multi-domain battles (air, ground, marine, space, cyberspace) to win in a complex war (Figure 2). The concept could also be developed to enhance battlefield communications when networks are hampered by enemy activity or natural obstacles are encountered.

Global Race

AI talents are key, yet in shortage with demands exceeding supplies. Funds abound with exponential growth during the last decade. Thus, more money will be pouring in from both private and government sectors to nurture new talents to fill the AI talent gap. Meanwhile, thousands of startups in this arena are burgeoning around the globe. Reportedly, the UK has launched new university courses focused on AI and added funding for doctoral students at top universities. The UK has set up a parliamentary select committee on AI dedicated to consider and make recommendations on the economic, ethical, and social implications of advances in AI.

Moreover, China is now embarking on an unprecedented effort to master AI. Its government is planning to invest tens of billions of dollars into AI technology in the coming years, and many Chinese companies are investing heavily in educating and developing AI talents. The Chinese government is pushing hard for the development of AI and IoT in China, as well as commercial AI companies. If this nationwide effort succeeds, China could emerge as a leading force in AI. China’s success in building supercomputers demonstrates its potential to catch up to world leaders in AI hardware.

Hardware

Hardware plays a critical part in the AI era and works hand in hand with software systems. The increased workload and almost unlimited processing power propelled by AI/ML will require the most advanced semiconductors, packaging approaches, and manufacturing prowess ever developed to reach the interconnect density needed.

To enable AI and its building blocks—machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, new chips (processor and memory), and new architectures—a system design that delivers on targets such as low power consumption, high performance, low latency, high bandwidth, and high speed, will be the ever in demand. Inference processing in lieu of traditional program processing can be achieved only by fulfilling these performance requirements. Equally demanding is to assess and optimize for different types of AI workloads— a business case to justify building custom-designed chips (e.g., application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs).

Recently, DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) established funding that could potentially reach upwards of $1.5B over its lifetime. Dubbed the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), the fund will be used to work on advances in chip technology. The funding is a significant increase in hardware budget focusing on chip design, architecture, materials, and integration, as well as leveraging on ML to substantially speed up new chip design.

Materials Innovations

To face the challenges of the AI era, new semiconductor technology will call for materials innovations to develop a wide array of new processor integrated circuits (ICs) and memory chips. This is a demanding area in technology and a growing space in business.

Further, as global competition moves on and new technologies continue to become available, who will have the upper hand remains to be seen. Until now, the U.S. semiconductor industry has been in a leading position in AI hardware. This is an ongoing global competition among scientists, engineers, companies, and countries. There is a long way to go before reaching the full potential of AI to truly mimic human cognitive capabilities and functions (e.g., asking the right questions at the right time to solve the right problems in real time).

AI is creating a new paradigm. Ultimately, to best team up human-machine intelligence, we expect synergistic performance and capability by integrating judgment-focused humans and prediction-focused AI agents. AI should be destined to augment human cognition, capabilities, and capacities without causing ethical and social issues. That is the value and virtue of human-machine intelligent teaming!

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2018

Artificial Intelligence: Super-Exciting, Ultra-Competitive

09-18-2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become common everyday words, however, the present reality and future potential are yet to evolve. This article looks into the key considerations and strategies to better leverage these trends that are expected to transform the manufacturing world.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 3

08-08-2018

The third part of this column series aims to answer why SAC isn't able to become a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offer a more wholesome approach.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 4

06-04-2018

Dr. Jennie Hwang's column series continues in Part 4, which addresses two pivotal questions: Why SAC is not able to be a universal interconnecting material for electronic circuits, and why a quaternary alloy system offers a more wholesome approach.

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New Year Resolutions and Best Wishes

03-12-2018

The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. But the true challenge is to keep these goals from falling into a wish list and to know how to stick to those goals and when. I hope that in this year to come, goals give us direction in whatever we do, be it on AI, 5G, mixed reality and quantum computing or the next chip design.

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2017

The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 2

12-08-2017

Part 2 of Dr. Jennie Hwang's article series outlines the Bi effects on 63Sn37Pb solder material, which have been substantiated by years of field performance prior to lead-free implementation. This should serve as the sound baseline for further discussion on the subject.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics, Part 1

10-17-2017

In this column series about bismuth, Dr. Jennie Hwang starts with its elemental properties: where it is usually mined, its safety data, and application areas—in the chemical world, the metals industry, and electronics. She also writes about how bismuth compounds improve the performance some electronics devices, such as varistors.

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The Role of Bismuth (Bi) in Electronics: A Prelude

08-24-2017

When it comes to considering applications in electronics and microelectronics industry, over last three decades, the industry has shied away from using bismuth (Bi), at least not in standard practices in mass production. However, an interest has surfaced recently. This article series is tailored to electronics and microelectronics industry, to provide an overview in its entirety in the areas of importance to industry applications going forward.

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Do Acquisitions Bear Fruit? A Pragmatic Perspective

05-02-2017

Acquisition is an effective tool for a company’s growth as a part of corporate growth strategy; and it is one of the top fiduciary duties of a company board’s governance oversight. However, statistically, the acquisition failure rate is quite high. In her column this month, Dr. Jennie Hwang reflects on her hands-on experience as well as observations on mergers and acquisitions in the corporate world.

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2016

The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 5

11-23-2016

In this installment of the series on the theory behind tin whisker phenomena, Dr. Jennie Hwang completes the discussion of key processes likely engaged in tin whisker growth—crystal structure and defects.

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New Year Outlook: China’s Five Year Plan

01-25-2016

In this article, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes about the latest developments in the current global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends, which include: the highlights of macro-economy outlook, China factor, oil dynamics, cyber security, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.

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2015

A Look at the Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 3

11-05-2015

The third installation in Jennie Hwang's five-part series on tin whisker phenomena continues the discussion on key processes engaged in tin whisker growth. She discusses the energy of free surface, recrystallization, and the impact of solubility and external temperature on grain growth.

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The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 2

08-06-2015

In the second part of this article series, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes that a plausible theory of tin whisker growth can be postulated through deliberating the combination and confluence of several key metallurgical processes.

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The Theory Behind Tin Whisker Phenomena, Part 1

05-27-2015

In this first article of a five-part series, Dr. Jennie Hwang goes back to basics as she discusses the theory behind the tin whisker phenomena--the reasons and mechanisms behind its occurrence--as well as how tin whiskers can be mitigated in the plating process.

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New Year Outlook: What Can We Expect in 2015?

03-04-2015

Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a long view on market thrusts in the anticipated global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends in selected areas deemed timely and relevant to the industry: macro-economy, oil dynamics, China factor, cybersecurity, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.

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2014

2014: Year-end Review

12-31-2014

In her latest column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang reviews how predictions in her January 2014 column actually panned out. She goes through the key sub-topics that directly or indirectly impact the industry in terms of macroeconomics, business environment, technology, and the global marketplace. By and large her 2014 outlook was on or close to target.

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Tin Whiskers, Part 6, Preventive and Mitigating Measures: Strategy and Tactics

09-24-2014

In this installment of the tin whisker series, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang takes a look at the preventive and mitigating measures--the strategy and tactics. She says an effective strategy for prevention and mitigation starts with a good understanding of the causations of tin whiskers. A smorgasbord of material and technique options are offered as a guide to prevent or retard tin whiskers.

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Capsulization

08-06-2014

Since lead-free implementation, concerns about tin whiskers have intensified. For the past 12 years, studies and research by various laboratories and organizations have delivered burgeoning reports and papers, and Dr. Hwang has devoted an entire series to this subject. This article aims to capsulize the important areas of the subject.

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Tin Whiskers, Part 5: Impact of Testing Conditions

05-21-2014

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang says, "Real-life stresses may lead a different tin whisker behavior as in accelerated tests (temperature cycling, elevated temperature storage). The alloy-making process to achieve homogeneity needs to be taken into consideration. For an 'impurity' system, how the process that adds elements into tin could also affect the whisker propensity."

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Tin Whiskers, Part 4: Causes and Contributing Factors

03-26-2014

According to Columnist Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, nucleation and growth can be encouraged by stresses introduced during and after the plating process. The sources of these stresses includes residual stresses caused by electroplatin, additional stresses imposed after plating, the induced stresses by foreign elements, and thermally-induced stresses.

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New Year Outlook: What Can We Expect in 2014?

01-29-2014

In her latest column, Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a long view on market thrusts in the anticipated 2014 global economic landscape, as well as technological trends in selected areas important to the SMT industry. Readers, pay attention--her predictions for 2013 were extremely accurate.

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2013, A Year-End Review

01-09-2014

For this year-in-review column, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang checks on whether her January 2013 column, "Outlook for the New Year," is on or off target. She addresses the key sub-topics that directly or indirectly impact the industry in terms of business environment, technology, and global marketplace to see how her predictions actually panned out.

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2013

Tin Whiskers: Concerns & Potential Impact

11-26-2013

What is the biggest concern about the growth of tin whiskers? A simple answer is "uncertainty." If or when tin whiskering occurs, what are likely sources of uncertainty or potential adverse impact? Dr. Jennie Hwang explains that concerns and impact concerning tin whiskers primarily fall into one of four categories.

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Tin Whiskers: Phenomena and Observations

10-09-2013

Tin whisker reflects its coined name. It has long been recognized to be associated with electroplated tin coating and most likely occurs with pure tin. Its appearance resembles whiskers. However, whiskers can also form in a wide range of shapes and sizes, such as fibrous filament-like spiral, nodule, column, and mound.

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Cyber Security: From Boardroom to Factory Floor

08-21-2013

Cyber attacks are and will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of when, not if. It is not industry-specific and every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Cyber Security - From Boardroom to Factory Floor

08-21-2013

Cyber attacks are and will continue to be a huge concern to U.S. corporations in the foreseeable future. It's a matter of when, not if. It is not industry-specific and every company will have to deal with this challenge. The earlier preparation is made, the better a company is positioned to fend off the attack.

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Tin Whiskers: Clarity First

06-11-2013

Lead-free solder comprises a wide array of alloy systems and each system can be modified in numerous ways. A test scheme to represent lead-free is a daunting task with an astounding price tag. Dr. Jennie Hwang advises that any tin whisker propensity study be conducted with a specific alloy composition, as clarity is the name of the game.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Conflict Minerals: A Snapshot

04-03-2013

As the supply chain becomes increasingly complex and global, with an ever-increasing number of suppliers, full traceability of conflict minerals throughout the global supply chain is a daunting task. To comply with the SEC’s reporting and disclosure requirement, a company must formulate a comprehensive program to achieving traceability and transparency.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: SAC System, A Revisit

03-13-2013

In compliance with the RoHS Directive initiated by the EU and later deployed globally, SAC305 of SnAgCu (SAC) system has been used as a lead-free solder interconnection alloy for both second- and third-level interconnection since the implementation of lead-free electronics. After a 10-year run, Dr. Jennie Hwang takes a look at SAC305 for IC packages and PCB assembly.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Outlook for the New Year

02-06-2013

After protracted high unemployment and lack of a speedy recovery in the U.S., and in the absence of clear solutions to the Eurozone's financial crisis and China's lower manufacturing activities in 2012, will the grim global economic outlook extend to 2013?

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: 2012 Year-End Review

01-16-2013

Dr. Jennie S. Hwang compares the past year to predictions made in her January 2012 column, "What Can We Expect in 2012?" including business, technology, and global marketplace issues. She feels that, overall, 2012 was another intriguing year filled with both wanted and unwanted events.

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2012

SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part IV

11-27-2012

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability. The focus of this offering is the role of the phase diagram in microstructure.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part III

11-06-2012

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: Can Microstructure Indicate a Good Solder Joint? Part I

09-11-2012

How does one examine solder joint microstructure? Is the microstructure important? This month, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang begins a series that addresses the practical aspects of solder joint microstructure and what it can tell us about solder joint reliability.

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SMT Perspectives and Prospects: 100 Points on Lead-Free Performance and Reliability, Part 2

08-21-2012

In the final of a two-part series, Dr. Jennie S. Hwang takes a wide, sweeping look at the history, timeline, highlights, and future projections for lead-free manufacturing.

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2011

Reliability of Lead-Free System: Part II, The Role of Creep

10-26-2011

The degradation of a solder joint is inevitable. The solder joint intrinsic degradation process engages two scientific phenomena--fatigue and creep. In this article, industry expert Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues her look at the reliability of the lead-free system with a closer examination of the latter.

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Reliability of Lead-Free System: Part I, Solder Joint Fatigue

09-14-2011

Industry expert Dr. Jennie S. Hwang continues her look at the reliability of the lead-free system this month with a closer examination of solder joint fatigue. Fatigue is one of the most likely culprits for material failure--regardless of metals, polymers or ceramics.

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