Shutting the door on idea of openness

By Zhang Zhouxiang (China Daily) 10:34, October 11, 2023

For all programmers and processor industry participants, the RISC-V website is almost a must-visit as an open standard Instruction Set Architecture, which is defined as the design of a computer from the programmer's perspective, enabling a new era of processor innovation through open collaboration.

Unlike X86 and ARM, which are owned by certain enterprises, RISC-V is an open one, allowing anybody to download its instructions handbook and use it. Maybe that is why some US lawmakers are targeting RISC-V. Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Mark Warner have reportedly been urging US President Joe Biden to take action regarding RISC-V, because, they fear, Chinese companies might make use of the open-source platform to improve their chips technology.

Maybe the legislators do not realize that by targeting RISC-V they are targeting not only a company or a platform but the idea of openness itself. Being a US company, RISC-V has a global membership, with a number of Chinese and US enterprises as members. It has for long been known as an open-minded institution promoting technological cooperation despite the political tensions harming bilateral relations, and the US lawmakers targeting it seem to be closing one of the last channels of technology communication between China and their nation.

By doing so they are harming the United States' own interests and its technological leadership in the world. Open source is a good computing tool that benefits those who share programs as well as those who learn from it. The Android smartphone system, for example, has prospered largely because Google decided to make it an open-source system, which attracted worldwide smartphone businesses to adopt its standard.

The US lawmakers might next target GitHub, or, some day, even forbid programmers from accessing the internet. That will only lead to the US losing its technological edge, never to get it back again.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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