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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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Building your replacment
By Salisme on 11/14/2012 3:32:32 PM , Rating: 5
It really has to be demoralizing to be on the assembly line, piecing together a robot that will be replacing you.




RE: Building your replacment
By ClownPuncher on 11/14/2012 3:49:07 PM , Rating: 5
Morale should be directly tied to the success of the People's Republic. Individual desires and ambitions are for the bourgeois Western devils.


RE: Building your replacment
By Salisme on 11/14/2012 5:16:14 PM , Rating: 3
Hard to celebrate the success in any republic when you're unemployed and hungry.


RE: Building your replacment
By ClownPuncher on 11/14/2012 6:09:16 PM , Rating: 5
Silence! You are an enemy of the proletariat!


RE: Building your replacment
By rdhood on 11/14/2012 3:51:20 PM , Rating: 5
This can't bode well for China or its workers. In the same way that the U.S. needs those jobs that were outsourced... to India and China, China needs those jobs that are being outsourced to robots. They already require growth of about 9 or 10% just to keep up with the population. As soon as jobs start going to robots, who among the unemployed in China will be able to afford the stuff that they make?

When robots are making everything in the world, to whom will the world's wealthy sell their products?

I am not trying to start an argument, I am just trying to see the logical conclusion to all of this. Worldwide, factories move to the lowest cost labor, ruining the economies of the previous-lowest cost labor. In many cases, this destroys the middle class just as it has wreaked havoc in the middle class in the U.S. The obvious conclusion of robot doing all factory labor is that very few manufacturing jobs are left (world wide). Decent paying manufacturing jobs have been the mainstay of the middle class for a couple of hundred years. The created a vibrant middle class in Europe and the U.S. When they left, Europe an U.S. economies have stagnated. They created a vibrant middle class in China (300 million people in the middle class in China!). What happens when those go away, too?


RE: Building your replacment
By sheh on 11/14/2012 4:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder if these worries aren't ultimately like 19th century concerns about horse manure filling the streets of the cities in the future 20th century.

When manufacturing is fully automatic goods will be cheaper. People can work in other things. In controlling, in thinking. If it's cheap enough, perhaps not work at all. Rise of the workless society, or at least optional work.


RE: Building your replacment
By Mitch101 on 11/14/2012 7:34:09 PM , Rating: 3
That is until these robots start jumping out the windows too.


RE: Building your replacment
By Ish718 on 11/15/2012 1:12:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yes! That is why we need robots with emotions.


By inperfectdarkness on 11/15/2012 2:24:24 AM , Rating: 2
i'm glad SOMEONE said it. i was about to ask if chinese robots come pre-programmed like marvin the paranoid android.


RE: Building your replacment
By Mr Perfect on 11/16/2012 12:34:54 PM , Rating: 3
That's why they're bolted to the floor. You can't do that with humans, even in China.


RE: Building your replacment
By drycrust3 on 11/15/2012 1:23:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
When manufacturing is fully automatic goods will be cheaper. People can work in other things.

The problem being there may well be no "work in other things" because that "other things" has become automated as well. The "fully automatic" doesn't just mean "fully automated welders" or "fully automatic production line" soon it will mean "fully automated management" as well. See those programs like MYOB? How long do you think it will be before these types of programs are doing all accounting?


RE: Building your replacment
By FaaR on 11/14/2012 5:22:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When robots are making everything in the world, to whom will the world's wealthy sell their products?

The people who work on the assembly lines of foxconn already can't afford much, so they aren't much of a driving force in the economy. Shit, you practically can't live on the salary that foxconn used to pay, now they've bumped up the salary a bit after all the suicides and such so maybe you won't go bankrupt anymore working for that company.

Robots are best suited for jobs that people aren't well suited for anyway; mindless, monotonous and/or physically demanding. It's better if robots take over these jobs, because a person working them for very long will wear themselves out, and that is a big cost overall to society (even though the owners of foxconn themselves may be making big bucks.)


RE: Building your replacment
By BifurcatedBoat on 11/14/2012 5:38:57 PM , Rating: 4
That's exactly right. You're better off building a robot to do the monotonous job, training one of the workers to maintain the robots, and getting the rest of the workers to do something else that the robots can't do yet.

That improves progress, efficiency, and ultimately quality of life for everybody.

Imagine if we were still trying to hang onto the the middle-ages blacksmith concept, and things like shovels and wheels were manually created individually using a forge for the sake of saving jobs. Yeah, you'd have more people having something to do, but it would be a waste of time and resources relative to modern mass production.


RE: Building your replacment
By Salisme on 11/14/2012 6:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely! I was a contractor at a GM powertrain plant fresh out of college. Easily 80% of the plant was automated, and there was basically engineers that replaced down machinery. It was very efficient.

This idea is not a new concept. There will always be people needed to fix and replace the machines, that is unless skynet really does take over....


RE: Building your replacment
By Jaybus on 11/15/2012 1:32:20 PM , Rating: 2
The first industrial use robot was installed in a GM plant in 1961. They have slowly replaced human workers over the last 50 years and robots are now widespread. It is not surprising that Foxcon would automate. If instead of low wage workers, they were actually slaves, robots would still be cheaper. My father worked for a steel mill in the 60's and 70's. At the time, they had over 10,000 employees. Now they make almost twice as much steel with only 2,000 employees. None of these lost jobs were outsourced. They simply were replaced with robots. I consider it a good thing, because the place is a hell on Earth and many people were killed or injured there in really dangerous jobs. Likely you couldn't even find anybody who would dare to do those jobs now. That was a much tougher generation.


RE: Building your replacment
By Tony Swash on 11/14/12, Rating: 0
RE: Building your replacment
By bupkus on 11/15/2012 1:30:51 AM , Rating: 1
Give it a rest. You don't need to defend Apple about Foxconn anymore. Simply said, considering the problems here we truly don't care about worker problems in China.


RE: Building your replacment
By Tony Swash on 11/15/2012 6:46:29 AM , Rating: 1
I note you don't challenge any of the points I made. You just don't much like the truth.

Industrial workers in China are a lot better off than their parents. Fact

The Foxconn suicide rate is below the national average. Fact

Foxconn wages are about twice the average industrial wage. Fact

It may be galling but 'dems the facts' :)


RE: Building your replacment
By YashBudini on 11/15/2012 12:29:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It may be galling but 'dems the facts' :)

You can be in the the best most humane torture chamber in the country, doesn't make it a good place to be. Chew on those facts for a while.


RE: Building your replacment
By testerguy on 11/16/2012 5:09:18 AM , Rating: 2
A torture chamber which you have a choice whether to enter, or stay in?

Right... OK.


RE: Building your replacment
By bupkus on 11/15/2012 1:45:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It may be galling but 'dems the facts' :)

Uhh... it may be galling but 'who cares' :)

Fact is, I don't see myself buying anything Apple in the next forever. I wouldn't change that if Foxconn gave their employee "guests" conjugal visits.

Now, before you call me a hater, it's not because I hate Apple, I just prefer the Google way of open sourcing Android. In addition, I would only purchase Nexus devices with repeated Android updates; it's like Christmas every 16 weeks.


RE: Building your replacment
By Twistedbro5 on 11/15/2012 11:51:22 AM , Rating: 2
China doesn't even care about China, their workers can die their people can suffer, they have the money,the military, the numbers, the goods. They will win as the U.S goes over the fiscal Cliff. WW3 comin in the next 20 years max


RE: Building your replacment
By TheSlamma on 11/15/2012 2:39:29 PM , Rating: 2
Have you been reading up on China's economy lately? They are not looking that great and they are losing jobs left and right now. They need money from something also to support their government, we'll see how they hold up.

What goes up... must come down.. spinnin' wheel... you finish it!!


RE: Building your replacment
By Ringold on 11/15/2012 2:01:23 AM , Rating: 2
Don't know why that's -2. In this instance.. He speaks truth.

China, pre Deng Xioping's 1980s reforms, had nothing but rice paddies and cow dung. Now look at it. Swash is right. Only an idiot would think those hundreds of millions of people that've swarmed the city don't obviously consider the city and its factories preferable to the rice paddies. For a lot of legal reasons, it'd even be easier for them if they did go back. But they choose to stay. Consumer spending in China is booming; do you see Apple stores, legit or not, sprouting up all over what is the equivalent of pre-Deng China, North Korea? No, you do not.

I know a lot of my fellow pampered Westerners would like if, somehow, a country could go straight from cow dung and rice paddies to a wine-sipping 30-hour work week, iPhone 5 in every pocket, metrosexual-filled society afraid to gets its hands dirty. Stalin and Mao both tried it, millions died. Just doesn't work that way.


RE: Building your replacment
By YashBudini on 11/15/2012 12:32:24 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Building your replacment
By Ringold on 11/15/2012 3:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
What does that have to do with anything? If anything, it reinforces Tony's point. He's selling a body part, like an idiot, not for food, housing, or anything else necessary for a basic standard of human living. He sold it to acquire a 100% luxury item.


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.


RE: Building your replacment
By StanO360 on 11/14/2012 5:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
Skynet is here!


RE: Building your replacment
By Chocobollz on 11/16/2012 11:06:25 AM , Rating: 2
Skynet? Well I'd say their looks reminds me more of Stark Industries.. Jarvis anyone? xD


RE: Building your replacment
By rameshms on 11/14/2012 6:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
It's not any worse than a tech worker in US training his counterpart in India/China knowing very well he/she is his/her replacement. It's part of globalization or diversification or whatever you want to call it..


RE: Building your replacment
By Alexvrb on 11/15/2012 12:00:31 AM , Rating: 2
All hail friend computer!


RE: Building your replacment
By ghost03 on 11/19/2012 4:59:51 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on how much empathy one has. If you're the one building the robots, you know YOU won't get laid off until all the robot are built.

Unless it's robots that build the robots, in which case it doesn't matter because we all know the world will end :).


One Liner Analysis
By EricMartello on 11/14/2012 3:13:54 PM , Rating: 4
INB4 "Asians are robots LOL what else is new?"

But yeah, people here complain about training their replacement...looks like them chinese are going to be complaining about assembling their replacements.

This move should help Apple with its PR...at least until the bots become self aware and start leaping out of windows.




RE: One Liner Analysis
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 11/14/2012 3:32:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
at least until the bots become self aware and start leaping out of windows.


Already happening ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3NGN4t4hm4


RE: One Liner Analysis
By Motoman on 11/14/2012 3:41:22 PM , Rating: 2
Nah. What'll probably happen is all the bots will just start humping the iThings non-stop a la Robot Chicken.


RE: One Liner Analysis
By zephyrprime on 11/15/2012 11:54:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yo don't worry. We will make flying robots that are ok jumping out of windows. Now that's thinking outside the box!


That's what should have happened here
By BifurcatedBoat on 11/14/2012 5:30:07 PM , Rating: 3
The robots are a tool. Replacing some of the human labor required to complete a task with a tool is just the natural flow of progress. Usually it's done at the point when it becomes cost-effective to do so.

Granted, for every 10 manual laborers displaced by the machine, there may be just one maintenance guy/programmer. However, that guy will very likely be paid a middle-class salary instead of a relatively meager laborer's salary. So it's not really the bad thing that some people make it out to be. It's how quality of life improves.

One of the problems US manufacturing had is that, buoyed by unions, people thought they could stop progress from happening. That unfortunately led to American firms losing competitiveness with relatively unfettered foreign companies.

We should have been the ones to retrofit our factories with robots. Now it's happening at Foxconn instead.




By bjacobson on 11/14/2012 6:56:09 PM , Rating: 3
as much as I don't like some of the problems unions bring they definitely ensured we had a sizable middle class.

We can't all be engineers. There are already enough sales people and managers.


By Ringold on 11/15/2012 2:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We should have been the ones to retrofit our factories with robots. Now it's happening at Foxconn instead.


Actually, we did. US manufacturing didn't peak when people think it did, in the 70s. I don't think we've got to pre-recession highs again yet, but we're way, way above where we were back then. We've simply done a lot more with vastly fewer workers.

It's also hidden from public sight a bit because the value has come from fewer consumer-facing things. As a country, we did what we were supposed to in theory, we moved up the value chain. I mean, GE's hot new product is a massive, highly efficient, more quickly starting and stopping gas turbine. Easier, therefore, to integrate in to a grid with finnicky solar that produces on minute and doesnt the next when clouds roll in. Millions of dollars each, but not something we find at WalMart. MRI's. Defense equipment like radars. Surgical robots. US manufacturing is sorta in the shadows, but its as large dollar wise as it ever has been.


By marvdmartian on 11/15/2012 1:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Still, they should have waited, as it seems they might have picked up 10,000 Panasonic workers, cheap!

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=29188


Still pushing this falacy?
By Shadowself on 11/14/2012 6:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


Did Jason write this part of the story for you?

The NYT recanted the story citing Mr. Daisey (the original NYT story's primary source) as saying that his account was purely theatrical in nature. Several independent investigators (not associated with Apple, Foxconn, NYT or Daisey) reported that the vast majority of Mr. Daisey's report was fabricated. Investigators interviewed most of the people he "quotes" and found out that literally everyone of them claimed they were either misquoted by Mr. Daisey or were never interviewed by Mr. Daisey at all. He simply made it up because, as he put it, "It's good theater." The NYT ran with the story based upon his fabrications then had to take it all back.




RE: Still pushing this falacy?
By Azethoth on 11/14/2012 10:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but all that smoke did actually lead to a real fire. Apple really has been pushing Foxconn to improve work environments, employees really did get poisoned / committed suicide etc.

Just because this one guy lied / exaggerated, does not mean the gist of it was wrong. Apple really did come under fire and that article started it, rightly or wrongly.


Fosconn has it wrong
By InternetGeek on 11/14/2012 7:01:51 PM , Rating: 2
Rather than replacing workers with machines, why don't they place the machines IN the workers?

Augmented skeletons for lifting heavy loads, plus modified hands to hold cargo.

Augmented eyes and nerve control so they can tape out chips by hand.

The future is bright!




RE: Fosconn has it wrong
By JKflipflop98 on 11/15/2012 12:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
They never asked for this.


The thing about Communism...
By CaedenV on 11/15/2012 10:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
I know that China is not exactly pure communism, just as the US is not exactly pure capitalism, but in a future society of automated labor communism has a distinct advantage in that it does not require people to work in order to have a flowing economy. The whole idea of communism is that those on top who 'know better' control the distribution of wealth and dictate the standard of living for the masses. In a future world where there is a high level of automation this works because the people do not need to work for the country to have an economy. Those who are motivated and want to have the perks of the 'working class' can get their education and get a job. Those who do not want to work can sit on their collective butts and twiddle their thumbs because the gov't would have the resources to afford them a decent minimum standard of life with even a minimal workforce being productive. Not saying I am for communism (I rather dislike top-down authority structures), but they will have that advantage when moving from a worker based economy to an automation based economy.

The problem with straight capitalism (and the reason it is not practiced in the real world) is that the minute you cannot work then your personal money supply dries up, and then you cannot provide for your basic necessities of life for you and your family. But even here in America we practice a form of socialism where we afford people a minimum standard of living (though it is a broken system right now... but that is another issue).

As things become more automated there will be less need for workers, but the standard of living for those without work will rise. It will never rise to the point of those who are gainfully employed, but it will make it to where you will not have to worry about what you will eat, or if you will have a roof over your head, or have heat in the winter, or even basic health care. Not saying it will all be sunshine and rainbows, but there is no reason for it to have the stigma of the 'welfare society' of the past.

The problem right now is that we are in an odd transition, similar to that of the beginning of the industrial era. We have some economies that rely on a labor force which can easily, or soon, be replaced by machines. The issue is not if the people being replaced will have their basic necessities taken care of (because we are compassionate enough to provide that). The issue is going from the pride of being self sufficient, to being reliant on society. This is something that Americans are greatly divided on. I think it is a largely generational thing. My parents generation was all for working at the same place their entire lives at one company. They want/need to be told what to do, and find security in that. Meanwhile, much of my generation (and I include myself in this) would absolutely love to have more automation, and that higher minimum standard of living. Not because I want to sit on my butt and twiddle my thumbs all day, but because I want to spend more time at home with my kids during the day while they are growing up (something my parents did not have the option to do because they both had to work full time for both economic and psychological reasons). I also would love to have it because it would free me up to do whatever I want to do. I am a highly motivated person, and if I have more free time then I would spend it learning and doing things rather than just watching TV all day, and I think a lot of people (though certainly not all) of my generation are similar to me in this.

The trick is structuring this transition so that it does not disrupt the life plans of the people who did not see this shift coming (like my parents). They saved a ton of money in various investments which have lost value due to inflation and the recent collapse/correction/Armageddon of the economy, and will only lose value in the future (tell me what happens to the stock market when more than 50% of the people in it are forced to sell stock due to the structure of their retirement plan... ya, that will not be pretty). They did everything 'right' by the rules of their parent's world, and what they were taught, but it does not work in this 'brave new world', and if we jilt their generation as they retire over the next few years then we should feel ashamed as a society.




RE: The thing about Communism...
By zephyrprime on 11/15/2012 12:03:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think you should read judge dredd if you want to see what the world you describe will turn out to be like. The world is judge dredd is a workerless one like you describe.


Ha Ha, Apple!
By jbwhite99 on 11/14/2012 5:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
There is only one thing worse than an idiot, and that is an industrious idiot! With this happening, Foxconn, why not put the plants in the US.

OK, Obama - now, put a tariff on these jokers - we should get these jobs in the US!

Having ranted, I can't wait to see these robots start scratching the aluminum cases.




To jump or not
By RaisedinUS on 11/14/2012 8:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how long before Robbie the Robot jumps from a window.




By fteoath64 on 11/15/2012 2:02:31 AM , Rating: 2
The robots cannot repair themselves and will have to be repaired and serviced periodically. While it will need fewer people, these factories cannot operated for extended periods without human intervention. In fact, the installation of the robots require great human effort to complete so it will spurn a different kind of jobs for humans.

Now I wonder why Foxconn is not relocating their factories back to taiwan instead unless they have far stricter pollution laws there.




Robot suicides are next!
By anactoraaron on 11/14/2012 4:38:38 PM , Rating: 1
I thought for sure by now we would have a joke on how foxconn only expects to have 96% of those robots by the end of the year due to robot suicide and poor robot worker conditions.

Next week's headline: "Foxconn installs springs on the ground below the suicide nets to help stop robot suicides"

:)




Problem solved.....
By GotThumbs on 11/14/2012 7:02:55 PM , Rating: 1
You may not always like the response, but this is the companies way of addressing working conditions and keeping costs under control. Hey you don't like it...start your own company and run it the way YOU want.

Robots don't sleep, eat, go on strike or bitch. I'm waiting for the wife robots to come out. :->




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