[OUTLOOK]Foster technology integrationOur ancestors had excellent skills for combining distinct elements and creating something new. Let’s look at Goryeo celadon. Our ancestors integrated an original inlay technique called Sanggam with celadon porcelain from China to create a unique and graceful pottery style.
Joseon-period weapons such as the cheonja chongtong were innovative products that combined Korea’s own technologies with those developed in the Yuan Dynasty. The firearms had dominance over Japanese weapons, and along with the turtle ship contributed the most to the Joseon Dynasty’s victory over Japan during the latter’s invasion in 1592.
Fusion is an act of creating a new value by integrating different infrastructures, facilities, functions and technologies. Imagine a building with apartments, offices, a shopping mall, medical facilities and a gym. Normally, you would have to drive from home to visit these places, but if you live in one of these complexes, all the conveniences are a minute away by elevator. While it might be a hardware matter of putting these facilities together rather than scattering them around, the difference in added value is tremendous. By simply gathering things that are spread around into one place vertically, you can enjoy greater efficiency.
There are many more examples of fusion out there. Traditional bibimbap, or mixed vegetables and meat over rice, fusion cuisine that combines the tastes of East and West, and VCR/DVD combo players, are elementary levels of fusion. Countless examples of fusion can also be found in high-tech fields from the information technology industry to banking, such as hybrid automobiles, bancassurance and variable life insurance.
When I held a news conference a month ago, I introduced the new technology of “fusion semiconductors” along with a 16 gigabit flash memory with the use of 50-nanometer technology. It attracted less attention than the flash memory device, which proved the “theory of new memory growth” six years in a row, but has as much potential added value.
The fusion semiconductor embodies a high-tech memory with logic and software on a single chip. Using memory technology, in which we already have an unparalleled competitive edge, as leverage, the fusion semiconductor not only can improve the still vulnerable non-memory sector, but also contribute to making digital devices smaller, lighter, slimmer and more high-tech at a lower cost. My company already began producing the world’s first fusion semiconductor, “OneNAND” last year.
Along with mobile, digital convergence ― the concept of applying the theory of fusion to digital devices ― is a key trend in the age of information technology. The cellular phone, which we always carry, is leading the trend as handsets nowadays come with a built-in camera, camcorder or a DMB function.
Let’s expand the boundary beyond information technology. In biotechnology and nanotechnology, new technologies for the next 10 or 20 years are being cultured today. If information technology is a predictable and practical technology to cut costs, biotechnology is prophetic and mysterious. Nanotechnology is a fundamental technology that supports information technology and biotechnology. The three fields should not be studied separately. While specialists naturally have their fields of expertise, the boundaries become, and should be, ambiguous.
Synergy is a phenomenon in which one plus one creates an effect greater than two ― a merit of fusion. However, not all fusion is more efficient. Some things operate fine when they are separate, but a clumsy integration results in loss of efficiency. There are no absolutes in this world. In the end, fusion should be able to highlight the best elements of both parts based on mutual cooperation and respect without undermining the original function of either. This is not an easy task. Fusion should be premised on a meticulous simulation. It is an important concept that will determine competitiveness in the future, and is not unfamiliar because it was a specialty of our ancestors. I am glad that the genes of “creative application” from our ancestors have been inherited by Koreans today.
The information technology talents of Korea have effectively combined American creativity, represented by Bill Gates, with persistent Japanese craftsmanship to create an original and unique IT competitiveness. Koreans are outstanding in semiconductor technology, which stores information, and communication technology, which delivers information. If these technologies, which are the roots of IT, and the recently celebrated biotechnology are chemically combined and create a synergistic effect, it is only a matter of time before Korea becomes one of the more developed nations. Instead of wasting time with various case studies, let’s promote the fusion of IT and biotechnology solidly.
I would love to hear foreigners say they envy Koreans, who inherited the originality of their ancestors and live in a developed country with a balanced advancement of IT, biotechnology and nanotechnology as well as semiconductors.
* The writer is the CEO of Samsung Electronics. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Hwang Chang-gyu