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One of Foxconn's new robots  (Source: singularityhub.com)
The electronics manufacturer will receive another 20,000 robots before the end of 2012

Foxconn plans to replace 1 million of its human factory workers in China with robots, and the first 10,000 have already been installed.

At least one Foxconn factory in China has received 10,000 robots for the purpose of replacing human workers. These robots, which were manufactured in house and are called "Foxbots," are capable of doing simple tasks like lifting, making selections and placing items where they belong. They will act much like assembly line robots.

According to Singularity HUB, each robot costs about $20,000-$25,000.

Last year, Foxconn President Terry Gou said he wanted to replace 1 million factory workers in China with 1 million robots. This was likely due to the number of problems Foxconn has had with human employees over the years. 

The company came under fire earlier this year when The New York Times published a massive article on the working conditions of Foxconn factories. Apple was also targeted because the report mentioned Apple's lack of action when receiving reports on these poor working environments and overtime/pay issues.

Foxconn gave employees a pay boost earlier this year and is cleaning its act up slowly but surely to comply with audits. 

But it seems Foxconn just doesn't want to deal with human employees at all anymore. While it will take a long time to replace all 1 million workers with 1 million robots, the electronics manufacturer will receive another 20,000 robots before the end of 2012 -- bringing its total to 30,000 for the year. Foxconn hopes to continue increasing this number over the coming years. 

Source: Singularity HUB



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RE: Building your replacment
By DaSHinVegas on 11/16/2012 1:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
What you have hit upon is precisely what Keynes understood. One of the last aspects of his theories of economics was the 15 hour workweek. He theorized that this would occur by the beginning of the 21st century. Why? Obviously during the course of his life, he saw huge strides in productivity caused by machining. When he was born in the late 1800s things were largely done by hand. By the time of the first WW, factories were common, and even more so by the time of the second War. He understood that eventually productivity would drastically exceed the demand for labor, and that the only way to prevent the huge unemployment this would cause in the long run would be to shorten the workweek, thereby spreading the demand for labor across the available workforce.

Obviously this presents a problem. If a livable income is based on a 40 hour workweek, and you shorten the workweek to spread the demand out, then suddenly the costs of labor go way up. The only way to afford this is to take the money from other places, ie the management.

Unfortunately, the 15 hour work week has not come to pass. This is due solely to greed of the business class in this country. Rather than deal with lower incomes themselves, the 40 hour workweek is kept, along with the unemployment it causes.

As your correctly surmised the problem is only going to get worse too. Advances in robotics and such are only going to increase, in turn, demand for labor decreases, and unemployment increases as labor is no longer needed. Imagine if we actually did have autonomous robots that could actually fully replace a human, it would wreck humanity because the whole system of economics would collapse.

If you strip the bottom of the pyramid away, the whole pyramid will collapse. The only way to prevent this in the long term is a shorter work week to spread the demanded labor out across the available workforce. Unfortunately capitalist wealth redistribution such as that would be is just as unpopular as any other wealth distribution. I suspect that we will continue to force the 40 hour workweek despite the obviousness that it is no longer feasible in the 21st century.


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