by Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Terry Gou/Facebook
FOXCONN FOUNDER Terry Gou raised eyebrows the other day, with a promise to fund an army of 80,000 robots to defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. Gou claimed that he would accomplish this within three years.
The outlandish suggestion came shortly after Gou was lambasted for comments suggesting that Taiwan build a small nuclear reactor in Mount Banping in Kaohsiung. Though Gou was criticized for the unscientific nature of the proposal, he suggested that building a nuclear reactor would bring economic prosperity to Kaohsiung.
Clearly, Gou is doubling down on odd proposals, taking advantage of his background as the founder of a technology company. Gou has been widely mocked, with memes comparing him to Iron Man, or the suggestion that Gou’s robots would be assembled in China, seeing as FoxConn’s factories are mostly located in China.
Internet meme about Gou’s statement. Photo credit: 狂新聞/Facebook
Nevertheless, Gou seems to be trying to backpedal hard on his pro-China image here. Likewise, Gou would be imitating a 2022 promise by UMC founder Robert Tsao to fund the development of one million attack drones to defend Taiwan.
Tsao, too, was originally known for China-friendly views, but he has reversed sharply on this viewpoint in past years, becoming a strident critic of the KMT. However, even if Tsao has been criticized for not following through on this promise, Tsao’s proposal was decidedly the more serious one, seeing as drones already exist but not combat robots along the lines of what was described by Gou. Likewise, Tsao’s proposal may have been aimed at pressuring the Taiwanese military to accelerate drone development, as part of the push toward asymmetric warfare. Tsao’s proposal took place in the context of rapidly growing civil defense efforts in Taiwan, organized by civilians and geared toward asymmetric defense, but which see pushback from members of the military that believe fighting should be left to professional soldiers.
Either way, now Taiwan has the odd trend of the rich promising to fund robot development in order to fend off China. Perhaps this is a sign of the times.