Reopening the Mind: Overcoming Cognitive Closure and Building a Semiconductor Industry

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

May 23, 2024

3 min read


Reopening the Mind: Overcoming Cognitive Closure and Building a Semiconductor Industry


In today's fast-paced world, the need for cognitive closure often hinders creative thinking and problem-solving. Our desire to find quick answers and avoid uncertainty can lead to erroneous assumptions and hinder innovation. This article explores the concept of cognitive closure, its impact on decision-making, and how to overcome it. Additionally, we delve into the challenges faced by China in building its semiconductor industry and the lessons it holds for the United States. Lastly, we discuss the importance of moving down the learning curve and investing in processes to achieve breakthroughs in the semiconductor industry.

Understanding Cognitive Closure:

Cognitive closure refers to our motivation to find answers and resolve ambiguous situations, even if these answers align with our existing knowledge without proper understanding. The urgency tendency and permanence tendency are two manifestations of cognitive closure. The urgency tendency drives us to attain closure as quickly as possible, while the permanence tendency pushes us to maintain closure for an extended period. However, these tendencies can lead to flawed decision-making and hinder true problem-solving.

Embracing Open Issues:

To combat cognitive closure, it is crucial to become comfortable with open issues that remain unsolved. Instead of rushing to find answers, train yourself to fall in love with problems. Richard Feynman, a renowned physicist, suggested keeping a dozen favorite problems in mind and testing new knowledge against them. By doing so, we can foster a mindset that embraces uncertainty and encourages innovative thinking.

The Semiconductor Industry Challenge:

China's aspiration to build its semiconductor industry faces significant challenges. It is not simply about recreating companies like TSMC; it also involves re-establishing the entire supply chain, which extends globally. The integration point between chip design and manufacturing, exemplified by Intel, highlights the importance of aligning these two aspects. However, this integrated approach comes with risks, as Taiwan's vulnerability in the semiconductor industry has increased.

The Economics of Fabs and Chips:

Understanding the economics of fabs (fabrication plants) and chips is crucial in comprehending the semiconductor industry. Fabs are costly to build, while chips are inexpensive. This dynamic is similar to the software industry, where venture capital initially supported chip companies before transitioning to software. Disruption in the semiconductor industry is almost inevitable and can have far-reaching consequences.

Lessons for Building a Semiconductor Industry:

Building a successful semiconductor industry requires more than just financial investment. Moving down the learning curve is essential on both the foundry and equipment levels. It is not possible to simply spend your way to faster chips; instead, it requires a deep understanding of the processes and continuous improvement. Investing in research and development, fostering innovation, and building a robust supply chain are vital for long-term success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Uncertainty: Train yourself to be comfortable with open issues and unsolved problems. Foster a mindset that encourages exploration and innovative thinking.
  • 2. Foster Collaboration: Building a semiconductor industry requires collaboration across the supply chain and global partnerships. Encourage open dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and cooperation to overcome challenges collectively.
  • 3. Invest in Research and Development: To achieve breakthroughs in the semiconductor industry, allocate resources to research and development. Focus on moving down the learning curve and continuously improving processes.


Overcoming cognitive closure is crucial for fostering creative thinking and problem-solving. China's journey in building its semiconductor industry highlights the challenges and lessons for all stakeholders involved. By embracing uncertainty, fostering collaboration, and investing in research and development, the semiconductor industry can continue to innovate and thrive in the face of disruption.

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