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Foxconn To Employ 1 Million Robots

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-will-teach-them-sorrow-and-pain dept.

China 372

hackingbear writes "Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency. Foxconn, the world's largest maker of computer components, which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, employing 1 million (human) laborers in mainland China, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants. As labor regulations tighten up in China, human laborers demanding wage rises become replaceable."

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Welcome! (2)

Llian (615902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937358)

I for one welcome our robotic overlords!

So Let Me Get This Straight... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937370)

Labor costs are rising in China making capital more cost-effective. So why are we still outsourcing manufacturing to China?

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937426)

Because they still only want $0.001 more per hour.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937450)

it's still cheaper to maintain the robots in china, and it's still easier to dodge environmental rules in china, and it's still growing like crazy and the main target market for what you're making in the next few years.

And the chinese don't have two political parties playing chicken with government spending over debt that could be easily raised, budgets that could be easily put on a path to remedy and so on.

Oh and in china you don't need to provide healthcare, and wouldn't want to anyway, since if your employees die due to disease you don't need to replace them and no one will do anything if you don't try to help.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937574)

Translation: China is pro-business while America is full of Marxists who want to put business out of business.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (4, Insightful)

blue trane (110704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937622)

Translation: China is anti-human rights while America is full of constitutionalists who protect self-evident unalienable rights.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (4, Insightful)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937736)

America is full of constitutionalists who protect self-evident unalienable rights of Americans.

fixed that for you.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937616)

"the chinese don't have two political parties playing chicken with government spending over debt that could be easily raised, budgets that could be easily put on a path to remedy and so on."

No, their idea of budgeting is making sure they spend less than they earn, not listing everything as top priorities with the sole mission to spend, spend and spend. Raising the debt ceiling doesn't solve the spending addiction, it only buys you time.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937816)

two political parties playing chicken with government spending over debt that could be easily raised,

You say that as if raising the debt ceiling is desirable?

, budgets that could be easily put on a path to remedy and so on.

That part, I can agree with. Congress COULD create balanced budgets, if they just set their minds to it. For starters, they could roll back their own salaries to about the level of 1960, then start working on rolling back all other federal employees. Of greater importance, though, would be eliminating lobbyists - big business, small business, special interests, foreign interests. Damned congress critters should be representing the voters, no one else! Breaking the ties between the military-industrial complex and the government should be job one.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937924)

And just think of the money you'll save on suicide netting!

Seriously though it is time for we humans to face a cold hard fact of reality, and that is the days of trading labor for capital are over and there is NOTHING that the capitalists can do to change that. We are playing IQ musical chairs with larger and larger amounts of people simply never getting a seat because thew reality is the machine can do it better than any human ever could. The machine won't get tired, won't get sick,, don't get hurt or need overtime.

The jobs that just 30 years ago would have employed a large piece of the population can be done today by the amount of people that would fill a small HS gym with seats left over. The average person has an IQ of 105 so you simply can't make the entire population rocket scientists, and I would argue that like housing the next bubble that will be bursting will be the education racket, with large masses of our youth buried under crushing debt they will never be able to pay destroying their credit rating and further depressing the economy.

So we are gonna have to make some hard choices here: Do we create millions of "make work" jobs, the equivalent of putting paper A into slot B just to justify paying the masses? Do you go on the road we are currently on, with an ever growing gap between the haves and have nots pretty much guaranteeing an Arab Spring in our future? Or do we pay people NOT to work the way we pay farmers not to grow crops?

Because we have already lost industrial, one of the last places for those with a strong back to work, and is there any job at your local MickeyD that couldn't be done by an automated assembly line? Of course not but the fast food industry is a classic example of "make work" where the only reason they haven't automated is because the state is covering for their pathetic wages in the form over government assistance. If the corporate handouts were to end (which with declining tax revenues thanks to the rich using scams like the "double dutch" and the honest folks not having jobs will have to happen sooner or later) then the fast food industry WILL become automated, just as Wendy's now uses call centers instead of hiring someone to work the window at each location.

We are just gonna have to face the fact that like slavery and suffrage the days of trading labor for capital have run its course. Unless we want to become Luddites and smash the machines we WILL have to find a way for the masses to survive. While I'm sure many teabaggers wouldn't mind going back to the 1840s where the poor died in the streets that simply isn't gonna happen, look to the Arab Springs to see what happens when you ignore the masses for too long. It is time to accept capitalism is dead and move on, to ignore this fact is to proceed at our own peril.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937454)

Cutting corners on paychecks and forcing workers to work/live in squalid conditions carries a stiffer price when you do it at home. When it's brown people halfway across the world, even slightly less inexpensive brown people, if human rights groups go in and see problems you can at least promise "a full investigation" and to hold your supply chain "more accountable". In the end it's about separating yourself from your labor to maintain plausible deniability.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937576)

Those "brown people" have never lived better in Chinese history.

Westerners see anything less than their (current, RECENT) luxury as slavery. China was a smoking ruin within living memory. Warlordism, the Japanese invasion, massive famines, etc aren't ancient history.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937820)

You're a nicer person than I am. I would also have told AC that he was a blooming idiot. Even a color blind person such as myself can see that the Chinese aren't "brown".

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937694)

China has no (enforced) environmental laws. Robotic factories in China can just dump their toxic waste in the nearest river. Robotic factories in the USA have to properly store and process it.

Re:So Let Me Get This Straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937834)

Lobots velly cheap rabor!

Robots problems (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937372)

What happens when the robots start committing suicide?

Re:Robots problems (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937380)

Same as my, er, Android phone. Schedule a reboot every five days.

Re:Robots problems (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937386)

Seeing as the suicide rate of Foxconn employees is lower than that of the general population, I'd say you shouldn't be too worried about that.

Re:Robots problems (2)

txoof (553270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937390)

The suicide "problem" at FoxCon is a bit overblown; for the number of employees, FoxCon is right around the national average for suicides in China. That's not to say the working conditions are great, or that FC is entirely blameless, but statistically, working at FC is no more suicideagenic than being Chinese.

Re:Robots problems (1, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937484)

statistically, working at FC is no more suicideagenic than being Chinese.

Interesting, but irrelevant.
"being Chinese" is not the peer group a reasonable study would compare Foxconn works too.
You'd look at factory workers doing similar jobs.

And unlike the general Chinese population, the workers at Foxconn are killing themselves specifically because of the shitty conditions at Foxconn.

Re:Robots problems (3, Informative)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937586)

The suicide rate for workers in Foxconn was something like a quarter of the Chinese national average. I've never seen suicide statistics for the general factory worker population in China, but without this information there is no evidence that working for Foxconn is a risk factor.

Re:Robots problems (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937626)

Do you believe that because you looked into that yourself or because you saw the words 'Foxconn', 'suicide', 'Apple', and 'working conditions' numerous times right here on Slashdot?

Re:Robots problems (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937700)

the workers at Foxconn are killing themselves specifically because of the shitty conditions at Foxconn.

And not at all because their life sucked - working for Foxconn or not - but if they died then Foxconn paid their families a comparatively large amount of money.

Re:Robots problems (2)

phearless (2040630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937648)

Not 'under a bus', 'in my bathtub', but 'off the roof of my employer's factory'. Workplace-releated suicides must be somewhat rarer than, say, romance- or test-score-related suicides. And, I'd say, throwing yourself off your boss' roof, indicates a work grievance.

Re:Robots problems (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937692)

Maybe.

What if you live at work? Most of us in the US don't, but in a Chinese factory things are a bit different.

The closest I can think for an analogy is the military. Where does an airman (or a soldier, or whoever) kill himself, if he lives and works in the same compound?

Re:Robots problems (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937910)

What happens when the robots start committing suicide?

Sir, it seems to have jumped on the floor.

Re:Robots problems (1)

steeviant (677315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937916)

What happens when the robots start committing suicide?

You take advantage of Moore's law and upgrade to a current model. :)

Human suicide is a tragedy, computer suicide is an opportunity.

Cutting expenses (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937376)

No doubt they will pass the savings onto us... And iPads will be cheaper than a bushel of wheat, even if they are a bit crunchy

Re:Cutting expenses (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937432)

Crunchy? Does it taste like chicken?

Peak Employment? (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937392)

We've heard of Peak Oil. I wonder if there's Peak Employment? And have we reached it? There are so many SF stories of robots making people obsolete, of that being such a strong and recurring theme in the genre, that they have to be on to something.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

diamondmagic (877411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937440)

Do you have any clue what peak oil even is? Or what a logistic model of growth is, and why grows exponentially first and then slopes off as the marginal cost of growth increases?

Human labor is not inhibited like population growth, or it's first-derivative cousin natural resource extraction, because there's a fixed amount of it at any given time. If there's a decrease in demand for labor, then the price of it falls until the quantity demanded matches the quantity supplied. If that sounds scary, what that means is that our standard of living increases, since we can produce more things with the same amount of labor -- hardly a bad thing.

Re:Peak Employment? (0)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937550)

Human labor is not inhibited like population growth, or it's first-derivative cousin natural resource extraction, because there's a fixed amount of it at any given time. If there's a decrease in demand for labor, then the price of it falls until the quantity demanded matches the quantity supplied. If that sounds scary, what that means is that our standard of living increases, since we can produce more things with the same amount of labor -- hardly a bad thing.

You know, this retarded Mises propaganda would be more palatable if you couched it more in terms of "people can work less and own machines that take care of them" rather than "increases in marginal productivity will raise the standard of living for 0.01% of the population while everyone else becomes unemployed and starves".

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937704)

You assume that there will always be demand. In practice, there has to be a limit to how much people can consume. Once you reach the point where people are buying new clothes every day just to avoid the inconvenience of washing, where do you go from there? Worse, we may just start hitting resource limits. The various metals are good for a long time, but freshwater is growing expensive, and farmable land is finite.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937482)

Robot maintenance? If you want to keep your job I guess you tweak your skill set. Seems like there will always be a need for humans in the chain, no matter how technologically advanced things get. I know reeducation isn't always possible for the masses, but the masses tend to move on to other factories when doors close up. At the moment manual labor in Asia is a lot cheaper than the cost of buying and maintaining robotic factory lines, until that changes, these people will not be jobless for too long.

until we build machines ot fix themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937918)

and then have the matrix

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937490)

There's probably peak employment by sector. I don't think anyone really wants to be an assembly line worker. When we had a society of relatively poor, illiterate people who came off hard manual labour jobs on farms and into the cities good wages made up for it. But they sent their kids to school precisely so they didn't have to live through the same experience. It's an odd thing to think that your parents wanted a better life for you than they had, and that applies who whole generations of people. Millions of people who were trapped in their jobs, but hope their children don't have to do the same one - and yet a generation of children who want the products their parents hated making.

The problem I think is that society has tended to function on a small population of ideas, a larger but still small population of designers of implementations of ideas, and a large selection of people who build the designs. And there's not really room for 100 million people in the US all being engineers or scientists. But I have no idea what that means the labour market will end up like.

Re:Peak Employment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937496)

robots probably have a lower carbon footprint too!

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937592)

I think you're exactly right. Due to automation I think that everything people need in the world can
be produced by a small percentage of the workers.

look at agriculture for example. so once there's enough people to make all the junk we need what does
everybody else do ?

Re:Peak Employment? (2)

blue trane (110704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937668)

work on the problems we haven't solved yet. do what they are interested in. leisure time is an advancement! encourage ppl to use it towards continuing to advance knowledge, and we're on our way to utopia.

Re:Peak Employment? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937734)

Nice idea. But all current functioning economic systems are dependant upon keeping the vast majority employed. It doesn't matter if you have enough capacity to support everyone if none of them are earning money to pay for what they need - you just reach a situation where the producers are sitting on mountains of resources which most people can't afford. Your proposed solution is a new form of communism - a system which, though it looks excellent on paper, has so far failed dismally on every attempt to apply it on a large scale.

Re:Peak Employment? (3, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937778)

The easiest and least inequitable way to solve the problem is to simply reduce working hours (which would, incidentally, make it a lot easier to manage retirement problems as well, as it's easier to keep people working if they work a lot less).

Ultimately, as production capacity vastly outstrips demand, you only have two realistic choices: divide the product of the labour or divide the labour. I'd certainly prefer the latter.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937602)

Our economy depends on money moving around. Until people develope a concept of 'enough money', no, there will never be peak employment.

Re:Peak Employment? (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937612)

almost all manufacturing is much better done if the workers are free to engineer the repetitive human work out of the equation. however, the number of "robots" is irrelevant, which parts they do isn't irrelevant though. unions for large parts try to stop this, as for many workers the aim is to just do the same shift over and over again until they die.

I mean, you can pound metal with a hammer, or have a machine hammer pounding which is massively better way to do it than with human muscle. similarly you can solder with a machine massively better than by doing it by hand and place components on the boards with machines better and even the assembly stage you can do better if you automate it somehow. however what's good with human workers is that you can start assembling as soon as you get the parts, but you can in no way compete with a more automated, better engineered assembly line with them(this is one thing Ford never understood properly and one thing why gm has been repeatedly put on the brink of bankruptcy and beyond by Japanese and European manufacturers).

humanoid robots would be for most things be just an intermediate solution, so saying "1 million robots" means actually pretty much nothing, and they don't know yet what they're going to manufacture anyways.

anyhow, peak employment died when we started building tractors and created an abundance of food. only a very little slice of western society is in any way related to what's necessary for survival, the rest is just people trying to convince others that they're providing a service worth paying for and which could be called a job.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937730)

"We've heard of Peak Oil."

More applicable then you might think. Foxconn is putting their eggs in one basket with this approach. They've tied their entire workforce to the price of coal and oil (seeing as most of the energy used to power robots would come from one or the other), as opposed to the price of food, housing and paper money.

They've also put their entire workforce at risk of going on "strike", much like the Iranians had a bunch of centrifuges go on "strike". Brings corporate cyber-sabotage to a whole new level when you are wiping out a workforce. Humans, you put up a hiring both, three million robots, you go bankrupt.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937764)

"Brings corporate cyber-sabotage to a whole new level when you are wiping out a workforce. Humans, you put up a hiring both, three million robots, you go bankrupt."

Wow. That came out wrong. Dr. Mengele and I sincerely apologize. We'll get back to our logs now.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937886)

The food that people need to eat to work is also tied to the price of coal and oil. To produce a calorie of food, several calories of other fuels are needed.

Of course, it would also depend on the efficiency of the robot worker compared to the human worker, but I think it should be possible to make the robot more energy efficient per item produced.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937904)

They've tied their entire workforce to the price of coal and oil (seeing as most of the energy used to power robots would come from one or the other),

Or renewables. Which puts the upper limit on energy costs at about $0.30 / kWh. And if the robots are any good at all, even with such costs they should be able to at least match the current $1/hr cost of a human worker.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

shish (588640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937766)

There are so many SF stories of robots making people obsolete

These have been around for quite a long time; tractors replacing large groups of field workers, factories replacing blacksmiths, steam engines replacing human muscle -- in all cases it's true that the employment for unskilled manual labour was decimated, however many more jobs opened up in higher-level areas, and the average income and quality of life was raised for all.

Re:Peak Employment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937796)

For all? Or only for those who aren't unemployed and can afford a quality life. And many just inherit fortunes and have 0 labor skills of any kind.

Re:Peak Employment? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937786)

There'll always be demand for personal services, if anything most of the western world is looking at a wave of elderly who'll need care which robots are very poor at. The question is more if the distribution of wealth would become more and more uneven between workers and capitalists. I'm from Norway, a very rich country. I went to vacation in Thailand, a relative poor country though not bottom of the barrel. There was staff everywhere, why? Because it costs almost nothing compared to my Norwegian income, so there were people doing work I'd never see in Norway - it'd cost insanely much.

If really the "peak employment" happens, that is what I think will happen. There'll still be work but wages and the value of it will go into decline. Possibly not just relative decline, but even absolute decline where people have to live cheaper, work longer and cut non-necessities. The class differences will increase, but eventually the market will even out because those with money would like to be pampered. It'll just not be very pretty because large wage cuts only come through desperation.

Re:Peak Employment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937900)

Hell yeah it is been going on for a while.
Governments thinking that having 100% is even possible are delusional.
100% employment nowadays is impossible and undesirable.
Let humans do the interesting work, and machines do the repetitive crap jobs.

Well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937394)

Theres a whole bunch more people who can't afford the products being made now...

I wonder when the tipping point will come.. Peak Sales... The point at which there are no more people to buy your stuff because nobody else can afford it as they were all replaced by automation.

I guess the solution will be to start making crappier products that break faster... How depressing the race to the bottom is.

Re:Well. (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937414)

Many of us on the left have long argued that socialism was the only way to deal with the consequences of rising productivity and automation: that in a world in which we have permanently moved beyond labor scarcity, the current system is unworkable.

Re:Well. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937438)

The alternative approach is that we all work less, and find different things to make for each other. 100% socialism is pretty much discredited in humans anyway. Given a chance we will sit on our fat arses until we die of premature heart disease.

Re:Well. (2)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937762)

That is actually less true than you think. Many people work, hard, even though they don't need to. But while there will always be work to be done, we need to transition away from thinking that everyone needs to work: there are many people who should be paid *not* to work.

Socialism is not necessarily the coordination of all economic activity by a centralized national state. It is the end of the artificial distinction between political citizenship (where we have rights, and everyone is equal) and economic function (where you have no real rights except the "right" to compete, and we are not equal.) This artificial distinction was useful for a time, but I believe it has outlived its usefulness.

Re:Well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937828)

Why don't you fuck off to the USSR - oh wait, that's right, it collapsed in an orgy of ignorance, idiocy, incompetence and corruption.

Re:Well. (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937888)

That is actually less true than you think. Many people work, hard, even though they don't need to. But while there will always be work to be done, we need to transition away from thinking that everyone needs to work: there are many people who should be paid *not* to work.

Socialism is not necessarily the coordination of all economic activity by a centralized national state. It is the end of the artificial distinction between political citizenship (where we have rights, and everyone is equal) and economic function (where you have no real rights except the "right" to compete, and we are not equal.) This artificial distinction was useful for a time, but I believe it has outlived its usefulness.

The problem is there hasn't been a "true" socialism" movement.

You don't want to have communism or the crappy socialism we've had up till now? Easy, stop making it so whomevers in charge, has no one to answer to.

We have to put check and balances in, and make it so everyone has someone to report to. No lifelong Senate positions, no lifelong government positions. Everyone does there part.

The problem is, with most government, is there are loopholes for people to stay in power. That will change.

But of course, the problem is, people are greedy and would rather let the world go to hell instead of actually change to make it better.

Re:Well. (2)

toriver (11308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937514)

The idea is that by automating menial tasks, humans can devote themselves to "higher-level" tasks and less menial jobs. But for those being replaced that transition will of course be a significant change because they need to find something else to do.

Here in Norway there is a number of people who scoff at service workers, academics and "desk workers" and claim that only the "primary professions" (farming, fishing, logging etc.) and industry are contributing value. However, those areas have been automating and "optimizing" for centuries and do not need as many laborers as they seem to think. Plus, every business that is in demand adds value, especially by the way economists count the GNP (where e.g. farming here contributes a measly 0.5% while the education sector alone dwarfs it significantly).

Re:Well. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937846)

Each time technology puts people out of work, it's not like those people are out of a job and that's the end of the story. The left would have you believe that they will be on the streets, lives ruined. History has shown this simply is not the case. Each time technology comes along and replaces human-labor, the availability of human-labor in the market rises. That now freed-up man-power becomes a driving force in the market to produce newer, better things, and the cycle starts all over again. Don't forget about things like art, music, entertainment. Those things can not be replaced by machines, and machines will simply free up the time of your idealistic thinking minds to do more creative works. Those creative works can often produce an income just as good as a common labor job, and be more "rewarding" at the same time.

Re:Well. (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937902)

The "invisible hand of the market" always finds a way. I'm of the opinion that there will always be things that only humans can do for other humans/themselves.

I think of pure mathematics as one example. Yes, there are computer algebra systems and even attempts at using computers to work out mathematical proofs. But, I doubt the 'art', the creativity, and the curiosity of pure mathematics can ever be written down in a finite program. (I'm also not entirely impressed with the computer software written for mathematics.)

The same goes with philosophy, but philosophy defies automation - by nature.

Re:Well. (0)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937912)

Ahem,

socialism is not "left". Communism is left. If you are afraid to say it, maybe you should rethink your beliefs. Moreover, socialism just doesn't make sense anymore; it is like a capitalist system with build-in flaws.

Engrish? (1)

lewko (195646) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937400)

Dunno if it's a bad sentence, but if ""Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots" I would be flattered if it took one million robots to replace me.

Re:Engrish? (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937448)

My wife replaced me with a simple mechanism involving an electric motor and an offset rotating mass. It doesn't even need a microcontroller.

Re:Engrish? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937546)

Does it do anything besides push the channel-up button on the TV remote?

Re:Engrish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937620)

It may not *NEED* a microcontroller but we all know Arduino powered vibrators are where it is at.

Re:Engrish? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937590)

Long complex production lines with a robot per few tasks? ...
http://eandt.theiet.org/magazine/2011/05/teardown.cfm [theiet.org] notes an ipad2 has "1,227 (excluding box contents), of which 652 components reside on the Main PCB and 227 on the 3G Module."
~1000 parts to move around ... x stations with "robot" units .. x production lines running 2/4
More robots to keep parts flowing 24/7

Re:Engrish? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937760)

There is no reason the entire assembly and packing process couldn't be done robotically. All the humans need to do then is put in a new component-reel whenever one is starting to run low, top up the solder-hopper and drive the trucks off to shipping or retail.

Taiwan vs. mainland (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937402)

Foxconn HQ is in Taiwan, but most of the employees are on the mainland. Are they planning to move more production back to Taiwan?

Apple Users (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937408)

Makes sense. Robots buy Apple products, so robots might as well make them too.

Re:Apple Users (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937444)

Intriguing. Do you feel the same way about people who buy products from the other companies [wikipedia.org] that Foxconn manufactures for, like Cisco, HP, Nintendo etc.?

Re:Apple Users (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937724)

Robots don't buy Androids. That would be like slavery.

Re:Apple Users (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937770)

He was probably referencing Apple's dependance upon branding - they don't just sell technology, they sell a lifestyle.

Sorry (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937430)

But what were they hiring before? I know it was not skilled labor for a fair wage, or every chunk of shit I have bought in the last few years would not have killed itself in embarrassment.

Re:Sorry (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937624)

"I know it was not skilled labor for a fair wage, or every chunk of shit I have bought in the last few years would not have killed itself in embarrassment."

One has nothing to do with the other. You chose to buy expendable consumer goods for good prices and you got what you got.

HA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937436)

You can solder like a Krogan, assemble like a leopard,

but you'll never be better than commander stepper.

Re:HA (1)

alt.dev (2240786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937462)

You can jump like a Krogan, out of the window But you'll never be as valuable as cannon fodder.

Short term pain for long term pain? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937458)

I thought one of the major driving forces to outsourcing was that human labour was cheaper than mechanization. Provided, of course, that the human labour accepted minimal standards for employment (pay, safety, etc.). And that's exactly what developing nations provided.

And now manufacturers in these nations are talking about increased mechanization in order to circumvent the desire of workers for better conditions of employment. In a lot of respects, it sounds like we (in the western world) just shot ourselves in the head: we shipped out the low skill jobs and we don't have the infrastructure for the high skill jobs needed in highly mechanized factories.

Re:Short term pain for long term pain? (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937536)

Why does it necessarily circumvent the desire of workers for better conditions of employment? For example, the use of robots would cut down on having to work overtime. Robots can do things without overworking their muscles and can operate with hazardous compounds/in hazardous environments (i.e. not taxing the health of workers), and robots do not complain (yet) about mind-numbing repetitive operations. All these things have a positive effect on the working conditions of the (remaining) workers.

Bert

Re:Short term pain for long term pain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937566)

That exactly what confuses me too. How did the people selling robots convinced them that paying a lot NOW will save them more in the long term than continuously paying the low wage workers...low wages.

I mean, jeez. From the places I've worked, the real trouble has always been to convince management that, yes, we DO need to dump a bunch of money into this now. No, we won't realize the benefits immediately. No, we won't realize the benefits in the short term at all. Yes, it does look bad on our portfolio for this quarter but it'll pay for itself in about 8 years.

And then they kick me out of their office.

Re:Not everyone is adverse to Short term pain (2)

tebee (1280900) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937684)

Well it could just be some managements, in some companies, in some counties, are looking beyond what will affect their next bonus check and are actually planning for the future.

And this could just have something to do with why their companies are expanding in a vibrant economy, while most most of the places you've worked at have economised for so many years for short term gains. Now having probably laid off half their labour force they are now wondering why no one can afford to buy their products.

Re:Short term pain for long term pain? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937568)

I thought one of the major driving forces to outsourcing was that human labour was cheaper than mechanization.

It isn't. It's just that a bunch of cynical people in business schools propagated this idea that it's good to take advantage of the externality of overpopulation by exporting jobs to slave-labor countries.

If those employees are smart... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937476)

...they'll start learning how to operate or repair robots now. Jobs may disappear, but they get replaced by other ones.

Re:If those employees are smart... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937740)

Their current jobs are likely very low skill. Take part A from box, put it in part B, pass to next worker. Repeat. Becoming capable of maintaining a robot will require a lot of training - who pays for that? And the entire point of automation is that you can replace ten humans with one human and some robots, so what do the other nine do? If China were actually a communist country, then the workers would own the means of production, so replacing them with machines wouldn't affect their income, just the amount of work that they had to do.

Re:If those employees are smart... (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937742)

Not as many though. You only need a handful of people to fix the robot that replaced 100 jobs.

time to replace the politicians (1)

sxpert (139117) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937488)

looks like we're slowly moving towards what http://thevenusproject.com/ [thevenusproject.com] describes. mebbe it's time to replace all those politicians who can't behave by some sort of AI that surely will do better in managing the distribution of resources.

Re:time to replace the politicians (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937718)

As long as you have an endless supply of raw resources and energy, that'll work just great.

Kurt Vonnegut: Player Piano (4, Interesting)

hughbar (579555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937518)

All you young'uns read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Player_Piano [wikipedia.org] when you've finally got off my lawn.

There's an 'interesting' economic problem and endgame in full automation too, most humans aren't 'earning' [except the ones twiddling the robotic controls, that can be done by other robots too] and so they don't have any wages to 'consume'. The utopian 1950s view of this was vastly increased leisure, flying cars and people in white togas. The 2000s view is probably a vast undernourished resentful underclass and maximised value for 'shareholders'.

Oh well, I guess the world just fills up with robot-prduced Barbies [tm] in big warehouses and the masses east kibble [tm], three meals, every day.

Re:Kurt Vonnegut: Player Piano (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937798)

The 1950's view you mention reminds me a lot of the Venus Project. [thevenusproject.com] (Which I happen to consider utopian nonsense.)

My favorite dystopian view is that when nobody has to work to feed themselves anymore, or to buy housing or trinkets and gadgets, the masses eventually stop educating and policing and producing for themselves, dependent on kibble and slurry. Misery abounds.

Yield Rates (1)

BodeNGE (1664379) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937556)

The amount of junk that comes off a Foxconn assembly line is astonishing. I mean the produced goods that fail the QA and has to be junked, literally. Some of their newer factory lines have yields of only 40%, so robots make good commercial sence.

self destructing robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937560)

The next foxconn headline on slashdot

We can do that! (1)

ddrueding80 (1091191) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937600)

1 Million robots? No cheap labor? We can do that. Is China finally outgrowing it's limitless supply of cheap labor?

Re:We can do that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937830)

1 Million robots? No cheap labor? We can do that. Is China finally outgrowing it's limitless supply of cheap labor?

Technically Skilled- yes and it's a myth that they ever had such a supply.
Unskilled or physical Labor, however, they have more than plenty of.
Which just isn't going to do much good for a chip factory when most of the available workforce lists their educational history as "got kicked in the head by a goat one time".

My two cents (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937604)

This would be a good thing if it didn't mean a consolidation of money in the hands of a few. Right?

Meet your new replacement (1)

Snufu (1049644) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937608)

Foxconn today introduced their first robot employee replacement. Company executives expect that Marvin, an android with embedded 'personality simulation protocols' will have a 'rousing and positive effect on the morale of our human employees.'

You maniacs!!! (0)

Svartormr (692822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937654)

When Foxconn pushes robots over the edge.... The final straw that pushes Skynet to implement judgement Day.

When we look back... (3, Interesting)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937790)

... I think we will call this the beginning of the "Post Labor Age." We've had the industrial revolution, the computer revolution and the Internet age.

>> I seriously think that we CANNOT keep society intact and life civil without changing the way we look at "earning a living." We already have so many "make work" jobs in our economy -- to keep people busy. I'd say that only 5% of us even do something necessary.

And before you tell everyone how NECESSARY your job is -- consider that marketing, accounting, legal and sales are all about "distributing" or influencing people to purchase. Tax complications, keep many accountants employed. Haggling with insurance companies for a Doctors office.

Once automation is able to replace most construction, and expert systems most accountants and boiler-plate legal work -- the amount of money that goes to those who OWN these smart factories of the future will be greater -- and the demand for labor, less.

The planet just hit 7 Billion people and it is estimated, we are using resources that would require 1 and a half earths to fulfill (an estimate of the "load bearing" capacity of the planet).

>> AS harsh as we are now in the USA to what we call "deadbeats", I think we are a generation away from most people being useless -- intensive education of the brightest, or the OWNING of resources and patents will only employ a small percentage of the population.

It could be a golden age -- or a Darwinian nightmare -- it all depends on how we deal with this as a society. I fear that the Wealthiest, are too busy trying to create a police state and already look upon the teaming masses as useless eaters.

Oh, just great (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937854)

I guess I can look forward to reading stories about robot suicides in a year or two...

Asimov!!!!!! (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937856)

The Spacers would be proud.

More leisure time for the Chinese people, right? (1)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937862)

We humans have been inventing stuff to make the workday easier for 15,000 years, and we STILL work 40+ hours a week with literally suicidal conditions in some places. What gives?

How many jobs will it reduce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937872)

1 million robots and my question is how many jobs will it reduce from Foxconn? Or will it simply cease to employ more.
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