Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Will Your Next iPhone Be Built By Robots?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the certainly-hope-so dept.

China 251

itwbennett writes "Foxconn has ambitious plans to deploy a million-robot army on its assembly lines. But while robots already perform some basic tasks, when it comes to the more delicate assembly work, humans still have the edge. George Zhang, senior principal scientist with ABB, a major vendor of industrial robots, thinks Foxconn will eventually replace human workers for much of its electronic assembly, but probably not in time for the iPhone 6. For now, humans are still a cheaper and more practical choice."

cancel ×

251 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Android built iphones? (5, Funny)

cait56 (677299) | about 2 years ago | (#41553529)

Android built iphones?

Re:Android built iphones? (-1, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41553587)

Cue the fandroids switch from "Apple's overworked and badly treated workers" to "Apple putting people out of work". Even though in both cases it's Foxconn and Foxconn also make Androids.

Not only... (4, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#41553629)

iPhone 7 : Not only built BY Robots, built FOR Robots!**

(**Like all iPhones)

A stupid sounding guy just called me.. (2, Funny)

bdwoolman (561635) | about 2 years ago | (#41553899)

He said "Bite my shiny metal Android. I'm usin' my iPhone to order more beer. Oh crap! A touch screen. Metal. fingers. useless. I need a human hand. Where can I get one. C'mere you..." Then I heard screaming and was disconnected.

Re:Android built iphones? (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#41553631)

And right on cue a typical Slashdot stunned mullet has taken the inflammatory clickbait hook, line and sinker.

Sadly, this sort of mindless response will encourage the "editors" to frontpage ad-grabbing garbage instead or interesting articles.

Re:Android built iphones? (-1, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41553745)

Says the guy who thought it was worth posting a story alleging there was not much of a queue outside one particular Apple Store when the iPhone 5 came out.

http://slashdot.org/submission/2268975/of-the-17-people-line-up-to-buy-the-first-retail-iphone-5-15-were-marketers [slashdot.org]

A man obviously not troubled by his hypocrisy.

Re:Android built iphones? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553777)

Kelso says "Burrrrrrrrn!"

Re:Android built iphones? (3, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#41553915)

Good point.

Here's another story that didn't hit the front page:

Apple stock spanked for low iPhone 5 sales
Only days after Apple (AAPL) began to put its new iPhone 5 into customers' hands, the company's stock has taken a beating. The reason doesn't have to do with Apple's disappointing mapping software, or even the reports of new iPhones being damaged right out of the box.

Instead, investors have expressed disappointment in how many iPhone 5 units sold in the first weekend.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505124_162-57521414/apple-stock-spanked-for-low-iphone-5-sales/ [cbsnews.com]

Re:Android built iphones? (-1, Troll)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41553931)

I respect a man who can admit his own hypocrisy. Well done.

Re:Android built iphones? (0)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#41554043)

Really? Well since you liked it so much, here's another one:

5 Reasons why the iPhone 5 is idiot bait
So, why are we buying an iPhone 5? mmm let me think. Oh, I know: we’re buying an iPhone 5 because that’s what people like us do. We buy the iPhone 5 because it’s the iPhone 5.

Owning one is an admission that you are sucker. That you are vulnerable to ‘peer pressure’ and ‘peer permission’. That all of the marketing world’s little tricks of the trade work effectively on you. That you are ‘target market’. That you can be manipulated at will by any corporation willing to invest the time and energy to do so.

http://warholschildren.me/post/32257878766/5-reasons-why-the-iphone-5-is-idiot-bait [warholschildren.me]

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41554227)

When you're in a hole, dig ever faster. Excellent. More!

Re:Android built iphones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553645)

Cue the fandroids switch from "Apple's overworked and badly treated workers" to "Apple putting people out of work". Even though in both cases it's Foxconn and Foxconn also make Androids.

No, as the GP implied, I think we're going to go with the amusing implication of android-built iPhones. So, kindly shut your face.

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553775)

Jeez... No one even got a chance to cue the Apple fangrrrlz, they swoop in with too much quickness.

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553869)

Really, who's worse, these posts you are predicting, or you, the guy that is stirring things up?

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41554067)

The one that happens even in the absence of the other.

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#41553613)

Anything would be better than iRobot.

Re:Android built iphones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553663)

That's because Will Smith couldn't act his way out of a wet paper sack.

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

bennomatic (691188) | about 2 years ago | (#41553755)

I don't agree. That scene in I Am Legend where he kills his dog is pretty well done...

Re:Android built iphones? (1)

bennomatic (691188) | about 2 years ago | (#41553749)

For some reason, this reminds me of the "How is babby formed" meme.

How is iphonn formed?

No (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553537)

For that to happen, I would have to buy another iPhone.

Typed on my iPad.

Today's technology = DUMB! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553543)

The Chinese workers are living a true hell working in those factories.
The Western assholes freely allow themselves to be tracked 24/7 by these hi-tech tracking devices.

"Smart"phone my ass. Nobody wins.

Re:Today's technology = DUMB! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553791)

The Chinese workers are living a true hell working in those factories.

And yet they choose it over an agrarian lifestyle.

Robots in China? (5, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41553547)

If the work is done by robots anyway, then what is the advantage of producing in China (except when producing for the Chinese market)? You don't have the advantage of cheap workers (robots don't get wages), but you have the disadvantage of higher transport cost.

Re:Robots in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553561)

The advantage is because they have a factory to do the work - instead of building a factory from the ground up.

Re:Robots in China? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41553565)

+1 insightful

Re:Robots in China? (1)

GodInHell (258915) | about 2 years ago | (#41553569)

Don't forget the social instability that will follow in China once you slam the doors of the factory closed.

Humanity's requiem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553591)

Yes, but China has shown repeatedly--no matter whether it's communists or the old guard before WWII--that they are willing to slaughter huge numbers of people to maintain stability.

The culling of humanity is beginning. Soon it will be just 1 million or so people left served by robots. Are you going to be one of them?

Re:Robots in China? (5, Insightful)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 2 years ago | (#41553639)

Supply chains, factory skills, skill workers, operators...

Do you know how long it took China to build its industry? It took decades. It takes a lot to move big systems.

Why is Ontario or Michigan still a huge player in the automotive game despite their high cost? There's a huge system there that is hard to move. Lots of suppliers, skilled people that know what they're doing...

You will note it is FoxConn working on this. There's nothing of course stopping a Western country from working on it.... but do you know the first thing about assembling mobile phones? No... it takes knowledge. Knowledge that right now resides in China. They know all the tasks people need to do to assemble the smartphone and can then build and task robots to do it.

And most likely it won't happen all at once. Maybe one part of the assembly gets automated. So that robot is placed in the FoxConn factory in China. A lot of parts suppliers are probably in China too (transport costs there as well). To move the automated factory to the west would cost a lot of time and money... is it worth the shipping costs? Believe it or not... shipping costs... even with todays gas prices are still quite low relative to the costs of everything else.

I'll leave it to the companies to figure out the optimal cost... but it's just not obvious that you'd want to assemble locally for such small items.

Re:Robots in China? (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#41553771)

many industries are moving manufacturing back to the states and Europe not because the Chinese can't do it cheaper but shipping has become so damn expensive.

once robots are built to do that fine dexterity work it becomes feasible to build small factories in various countries around the world and only ship raw materials/bulk products around. why build USA's and Europe's demand in China when they could be built in Canada or Ireland for a fraction of the overall shipping costs. In the next 30 years I see that trend coming out. combined with advances in material sciences and 3D Printing/Robototic assembly. one massive factory will become franshise factories.

If you want an idea. a restaurant only cooks and prepares food it doesn't grow/gather the raw materials.
a franchise factory will build your item. to designer specs, and with possibly raw materials supplied by the designer.

Re:Robots in China? (1, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | about 2 years ago | (#41553805)

...is it worth the shipping costs? Believe it or not... shipping costs... even with todays gas prices are still quite low relative to the costs of everything else.

If you believe that global temperature shifts are causing greater weather destabilization, then--regardless of gas prices--that could shift significantly. Shipping is cheap because, let's say you're sending phones--you can fit thousands of them into a container, probably more than 100,000 on a single ship, maybe more. But there's always a non-zero chance of losing that cargo, and if you suddenly can't make a trans-Pacific journey for six months out of the year because of constant hurricanes, production in China won't seem to be such a great deal.

Of course, by that point, we'll probably have bigger fish to fry. Assuming there are any fish left.

Re:Robots in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41554111)

Why is it when people talk about global warming and climate change, all of the changes everyone talks about are many more and bigger than ever seen storms, large extended areas of flooding and drought which then causes larger and more fires and loss of land etc.. What is with the tendency towards extremes and many more of them? Look at the example I am replying to that people are modding up, weather so bad the Pacific is non navigatable half the year? Is this stuff scientific or just FUD? Is it possible that the Atlantic currents could shift a little and hurricanes on the East coast would become rare? Maybe the jetstream will shift and parts of the midwest in North America will get 20% more rainfall bringing with it the chance to grow many different type of crops with a longer growing season? I could bring up more examples around the world where a more or less rainfall in an area would be very beneficial.

Re:Robots in China? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553821)

This kinda falls apart when you consider that now they're opening a billion $ plant in Brazil now. There's nothing geographically fixed about how to assemble stuff on a line, except for maybe local labor cost and regulations. There just isn't a lot of high-level institutional knowledge in assembling consumer electronics, any more than there is in assembling cars. Which, oddly, you cite as well, despite the decline of the US auto industry.

As it turns out, the guy making $85k to snap in plastic door panels can be replaced by someone making $10k somewhere else.

Re:Robots in China? (1)

bledri (1283728) | about 2 years ago | (#41553651)

Two things come to mind. The factories are already in place and possibly environmental considerations (or the ability to ignore environmental considerations.)

Re:Robots in China? (4, Interesting)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | about 2 years ago | (#41553665)

Supply chain. The entire supply chain for electronics manufacturing currently exists almost completely in Southeast Asia and China. Not that it couldn't be moved, but you'd need a huge effort to move the whole set: raw materials like rare earths, silicon wafer processing, packaging, PCB manufacturing, case manufacturing, final assembly, etc. Instead of shipping the finished device to the US, you'd be shipping about 50 different components unless they were also available from the US.

Now, hypothetically, if you could get all of the raw materials in the US (or I suppose shipped to the US, but China is increasingly refusing to ship raw materials these days), and get companies to set up robotic manufacturing facilities in the US, then yes, you could do the whole thing in the US.

At that point, there aren't any jobs involved in the manufacture of that device, so why do we care where it's manufactured? If it's built completely by robots at every point in the supply chain, the only people making any money off of the device are the 1%er capitalists who own the factories, the people who designed the device, and the people who designed the robots (which also were presumably built by other robots). Most of that design work is still in the US. Oh and I suppose the people who own the land where the raw materials came from.

If you can't tell, I'm getting at a completely post-labor society here, which is probably still quite a ways off, but not outside the realm of thinking.

Re:Robots in China? (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 2 years ago | (#41553739)

At that point, there aren't any jobs involved in the manufacture of that device, so why do we care where it's manufactured?

Someone will need to maintain and retool the robots. A fair portion of today's heavy manufacturing jobs go to the fixers.

Re:Robots in China? (2)

DM9290 (797337) | about 2 years ago | (#41553845)

A fair portion of today's heavy manufacturing jobs go to the fixers.

Actually a fair portion of todays heavy manufacturing jobs go to the robots. The "fixers" are merely replacement for the company doctors that have been fired when the human workforce was made redundant.

Re:Robots in China? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553999)

Progress towards a post-labor society so far has been met by kicking, screaming, lower wages, and poverty. Stay tuned to see if this trend continues...

Re:Robots in China? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41554113)

I have a plow that needs pulling Mr. AC. (Do you see this rifle?)

Why aren't we already starving? 97% of us have been put out of our farms!

Re:Robots in China? (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41553689)

No one wants toxic waste dumped here in the USA

Re:Robots in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553703)

Import tax on components but not on assembled products.
This was the problem Raspberry Pi had for their first production batches anyway.

Re:Robots in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553721)

It takes a lot of energy to get to the Moon, and you have to have a reentry system that doesn't break the iPhones when they would come back to Earth. So naturally, China is a simpler location for the factory.

Good question (4, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | about 2 years ago | (#41553729)

Your specific question (if robots, why China?) was answered directly a few years ago by Terry Gou, Chairman of Foxconn. According to Terry, the US has "too many lawyers." Linky here [businessweek.com] .

Re:Robots in China? (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#41553795)

Its simple, China charges tariffs on goods made outside of China while the US does not (or at least not enough of ones to make a difference). So if Apple wants to sell in China, which is the fastest growing economy right now, then they save money by making stuff there.

Agreed. Philips uses people in China... (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | about 2 years ago | (#41553935)

And robots in the Netherlands to build the same shavers. [nytimes.com]

Re:Robots in China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553937)

Proximity to suppliers, and well-developed infrastructure.

Re:Robots in China? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#41553989)

If robots are doing the work, once you figure in the shipping lag, the cost of shipping materials to there, the cost of shipping the finished product back here, the socio-economic ramifications of building in one market for purchase in another, it makes far more sense to undertake the cost of building a factory in the target market.

Re:Robots in China? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41554075)

China will peg their currency at such a value that results in 99% industrial utilization.

Until they automate their factories they had to worry that wages would rise too fast. If they can automate then things will be peachy for all the sons of central committee members.

Of course that assumes that the peg holds. Burning out the presses for both the Euro and the Dollar is a natural and sort of aggressive reaction to the peg. Then again the peg is basically aggressive in it's nature.

Is labor dying? (4, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#41553567)

Seems more and more jobs are being replaced by technology. What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553617)

I came here to post the same question. We already have tons of unemployed across the planet and we have enough jobs for people to do but we're told that the economy doesn't work that way. How will we cope as we enter an age of plenty where robots build more devices and we can print parts locally and need to travel less to places like work and school? We're going to have more resources but less people putting them to use. What happens next?

Re:Is labor dying? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553653)

Implement a worldwide one-child policy, and euthanize all existing siblings of first-born children. Then euthanize all defectives -- retards, morons, imbeciles, the deformed, the blind, the deaf. After that, make everybody in Africa take an IQ test and euthanize the ones who score lower than 110. Sterilize all who are a parent of a viable offspring. Sterilize all unsterilized once they give birth to viable offspring.

Problem Solved.

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41553733)

After that, make everybody in Africa take an IQ test and euthanize the ones who score lower than 110.

I guess you restricted that to Africa because you know that you wouldn't have a chance to get even 100 on the IQ test ... but then, you'd no longer be alive at that point anyway, because in the previous step you advocated to euthanize all retards and morons.

Re:Is labor dying? (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#41553661)

What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

People who flip burgers start to get nervous. [marshallbrain.com]

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41553683)

Ask the Luddites.

Re:Is labor dying? (2)

igor.sfiligoi (1517549) | about 2 years ago | (#41553693)

Not a new problem.

Every time you improve the efficiency of production, you cut the amount of human labor needed.
Think factory vs a bunch of artisan shops. Or a big agriculure machine vs hundreds of small farmers.

So far, every time we reduced the human labor in one sector, we invented another sector which required a new set of human work.
Or did you think you could have iPhones using the middle ages efficiencies?

Let's just hope we can keep up with the trend.

Re:Is labor dying? (2)

DM9290 (797337) | about 2 years ago | (#41554103)

So far, every time we reduced the human labor in one sector, we invented another sector which required a new set of human work.

Let's just hope we can keep up with the trend.

"hoping" for something is just about the stupidest way to accomplish it. but I guess that's the plan then.

Re:Is labor dying? (5, Funny)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#41553719)

Presumably those of us who still have jobs (or are comfortably retired) will solve the problem by calling the others lazy and entitled and cutting jobs programs while passing laws that say they must get jobs. Then to address the rising costs of government support for the unemployed we will cut taxes. Problem solved!

Re:Is labor dying? (2)

rmstar (114746) | about 2 years ago | (#41553763)

Presumably those of us who still have jobs (or are comfortably retired) will solve the problem by calling the others lazy and entitled and cutting jobs programs while passing laws that say they must get jobs. Then to address the rising costs of government support for the unemployed we will cut taxes. Problem solved!

Nah, that will never work. The people are way to smart to let you get away with that </sarcasm>.

Re:Is labor dying? (5, Interesting)

javilon (99157) | about 2 years ago | (#41553783)

I have thought a lot about this lately. In a very short time during this decade, we will see most of this factory work automated (e.g. Foxconn), then we will see road transportation automated (e.g. google cars) and farm work automated. I don't think there is time for the economy to generate jobs for the growing unemployed part of the population. We are told that western jobs are moving to the east, but this is only a part of the story. Globally, jobs are being lost (Unemployment has risen globally to 210 million, or 30 million jobs lost since 2007 according to the IMF).

But this is only the current round of automation. If the singularity is near, and I believe it is, probably around 2035 as per Kurszweil's extrapolations of current trends, by the 2020's the value of human work will tend quickly to zero.

So it is clear to me that:

1) We should stop taxation of work, asap. Instead we need to tax corporate profits. Google, Microsoft and most of the big corporations pay close to zero taxes. That is unacceptable. For two companies with the same income, the one employing most people pays the more taxes. Also, people is taxed on their job income at a higher rate than its investment profits.

2) Society needs to come to terms with the fact that most people will not be able to work. World citizens need to have their basic needs covered. Then if they manage to work, they can have extra income. Most people I know would work just to be occupied in something useful.

Right now, the world is going the wrong direction. Income inequality is at its highest for the last decades all around the world. Economic output is going down and middle class standard of life is going down. What happened in Spain and Greece will soon happen in France, US and other western countries. The sooner the elites realize that they need consumers, the sooner we can change the system so we produce what people needs to survive and we can all move to the next level.

The alternative is for the elites (and this means 1% of the population, so most of us smartass IT people won't be there) to transcend and the rest of the world to be left in the dust fighting to survive miserable lives. I may be too optimistic, but I don't think that is what the elites want.

 

Re:Is labor dying? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41554081)

There is a lot of work that I would like done. Some quick examples:

1. My lawn needs mowed.
2. My house could use a good cleaning.
3. The common cold needs cured.
4. Full genome mapping for every individual.
5. Invent a substance capable of providing the cable for a space elevator.
6. Build a moon base.

Some of that could use automated labor as well. However, these are all areas where more labor could be devoted. The big challenge is that most of that needs higher education in a technical field.

In 1900, 90% of the population worked in farming. The US still devotes more of its population to manufacturing now than it did then.

Worries about a jobless future are overblown. The big problem with the future is the possibility that it will be too easy not to work. If one person can buy a robot that is capable of building arbitrary things, including another robot, then that person could have the robot build another robot and give it to a friend. Repeat that seven billion times, and everyone in the world has their own robot. Assuming we have easy space capability by that time, we can send the robots out to the asteroid belt to mine resources and move into space mansions.

How will we get people to do things like research and design? What will be scarce and tradeable? How will we motivate people to get advanced educations?

Re:Is labor dying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553793)

A messy generation or so, followed by significantly more prosperity for everyone (see industrial revolution, computers (computers aren't as bad, but I think that's what the "jobless recovery" is primarily about)).

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#41553829)

You end up with revolts shortly followed by a revolution. When you end up with a society predominantly made up of "haves" and have nots" (no middle class), that's when it gets ugly.

People need to be busy working and producing. But more importantly, they must not be under societal stress that pushes them to a breaking point based on desperation.

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41553891)

The global socialist revolution.

Not at this price (1)

dlenmn (145080) | about 2 years ago | (#41553943)

It's not quite as simple as technology meaning fewer jobs. There are a lot of jobs out there which could be automated but aren't. Why? Because labor is cheap.

This even holds in the US, although you can see technology chipping away. For example, a robot to scan and bag groceries wouldn't be too complicated -- most of the setup is already automated with a conveyor belt, barcode scanner, automatic change dispenser, etc. However, it hasn't been completely automated because paying someone minimum wage to put your groceries in a bag is still cheaper than a robot.

Changes could come as technology gets cheaper, but they could also come if labor becomes more expensive -- something a lot of people are pushing for, directly and indirectly.

It's not clear how this all might work out, but some of the possibilities aren't pretty. Part of the problem is that there would probably be an ~18 year delay between changes in the demand for labor, and changes in the supply of labor...

Re:Not at this price (2)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 years ago | (#41554001)

For example, a robot to scan and bag groceries wouldn't be too complicated [...] However, it hasn't been completely automated because paying someone minimum wage to put your groceries in a bag is still cheaper than a robot.

Around here it has -- they figured out that you didn't even need a robot, you can just get the customer to do all of those things himself. It's genius, I tell you!

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | about 2 years ago | (#41553955)

It's ok, Youtube will need people to manually screen videos for copyright violations.

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41553981)

Seems more and more jobs are being replaced by technology. What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

You give the robots an allowance.

Re:Is labor dying? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#41554017)

Seems more and more jobs are being replaced by technology.

This has already happened [wikipedia.org] , starting about 10000 years ago. It happened again [wikipedia.org] a couple centuries ago.

What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

Since this is a continuation of a 10000 year old process, there is sufficient data to predict that plenty of new jobs will replace the old jobs and standards of living will continue to increase.

Robot maker promotes robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553583)

George Zhang, senior principal scientist with ABB, a major vendor of industrial robots

Big surprise there.

Robots are great for replacing humans in industrialized countries, but Chinese laborers are cheaper and more flexible than any robot for the foreseeable future. Back when Apple only made computers, it had heavily automated US (and Irish, etc.) factories. All shuttered now, thanks to the affordable, scalable, flexible efficiency of young Chinese minds and bodies.

non-robot army (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553589)

This is certainly telling of what they think of their million-non-robot-army.

Robots building iPhones? Who cares? (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#41553619)

What we really need to worry about are robots building robots. That's when they finally don't need us any more and can rise up as our oppressors. That's the beginning of the end, man. The beginning of the end.

No, magic Fairies (-1, Offtopic)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 2 years ago | (#41553647)

My next iPhone will be built by magic pixies on the moon because I will never buy any crapple iGarbage.

Oh Good (2)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | about 2 years ago | (#41553677)

Now Apple is going to put Chinese workers out of a job. I can see it in 20 years, the CEO and CTO the only ones raking in the money, in their automated office with roomba's (made in Poland) cleaning up the office after hours and their Google driverless cars taking them home, to their Toyota robot butler opening the door...

Re:Oh Good (1)

mspring (126862) | about 2 years ago | (#41553723)

Who will buy all the shit, if they don't make money?

Robot Factory Conditions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553681)

Who builds the robots?

Or is this a turtles all the way down kind of thing?

Robotic people (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41553715)

"For now, humans are still a cheaper and more practical choice."

That's been the argument about labor since the dark ages. Slavery was cheaper than horses. The pyramids were built by people dragging slabs up the sides using ropes and pulleys; Even though it's almost a certainty that the Egyptians knew of more advanced engineering. They also buried the slaves (alive) with the king when he died. The question has never been whether humans are cheaper than machines: The larger the size of the labor pool, the lower the cost of labor. Supply and demand; Basic economics.

The question has been how workers are treated, and what level of servitude a society is willing to accept for some, or all, of its members. Even by the laws of the United States, what China routinely allows with its workforce is inhumane. I say this with the full knowledge that my country has some of the worst labor laws in the first world -- the fewest number of vacation days, the spread between what the head of a company is paid and its entry-level workers the highest of any country on Earth, and a grossly underfunded federal workforce safety department.

We shouldn't be doing business with them; They don't even have child labor laws worth a damn. But they have a lot of our money and they're cheap. For many countries, that's enough. I wish it weren't -- where are the europeans' "citizens of the world" speeches when they really matter? You're just as guilty as we are, that's why. Until human rights are something afforded to our enemies, as well as our friends, then we should be honest with ourselves: Nobody really has human rights. What we have... are privileges. And we live our lives in comfort because a significant portion of the world doesn't, and we aren't willing to help them get them.

Re:Robotic people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553853)

" inhumane. I say this with the full knowledge that my country has some of the worst labor laws in the first world -- the fewest number of vacation days, the spread between what the head of a company is paid and its entry-level workers "

So if two people mutually agree to exchange a certain amount of labor for a certain amount of wages, your idea of being humane is to butt in and put people in cages or have them shot based on your arbitrary whims?

Re:Robotic people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41554169)

In this case, it isn't two people. It's large amounts of desperate people and a few other people with a lot of money.

Re:Robotic people (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#41553897)

Truth hurts. Thank you for making me hate myself.

Re:Robotic people (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41553925)

Truth hurts. Thank you for making me hate myself.

Negative emotions can lead to positive results. Becoming angry at an injustice provides an impetus for challenging it. Don't be upset if you're "hating yourself", be upset only if you were apathetic after reading it. The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Re:Robotic people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553995)

All the do-gooders and bleeding hearts don't see the harm they inflict by trying to "help" others.
They don't fully trace out the consequences of their interventions.

When you forcibly coerce business owners into paying a minimum wage, what do you say to the person who is let go because they no longer prove profitable to the business? What do you say to the children in a community when their parents lose their job because a factory is permanently shut down? What do you say to those who suffer because the price of the products in question increase?

Economics affects us every day, but it is a science that relatively few understand. On issues of which you are ignorant, it is better to remain silent.

Re:Robotic people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41554021)

"For now, humans are still a cheaper and more practical choice."

My graduate adviser (Biology) once told me that grad student's are cheaper than robots, when I asked for a robot to handle some mundane tasks. Well this is no longer the case, at least in the US. There is a surplus of cheap second hand robotic equipment that can be used for biology research, thanks to the now complete human genome project and years of booming biotech industry. So things change very rapidly. Besides, cost is not the main driving force behind adopting robotics. The main advantage is consistency and accuracy. Workers get tired and distracted, they have different skill level and more often than not lack motivation. The fewer workers you have the more predictable is your work flow.

Re:Robotic people (2)

dadelbunts (1727498) | about 2 years ago | (#41554093)

Except the pyramids werent built by slaves at all. They were built by labor forces probably consisting of farmers that were looking for more money during the dry seasons. They were also provided stellar health care for the time being, something which slaves are not.

once they're done... (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 2 years ago | (#41553737)

... they can remove the nets from their factories/dorms.

And, of course... (1)

Sketchly (1354369) | about 2 years ago | (#41553741)

..robots won't commit suicide by jumping out the windows.

Re:And, of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41554147)

Luxury! When I was a slave laborer I didn't have windows to jump out of!

Grateful for Work (2)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#41553789)

Hmm... those rioting workers should have been more grateful for their jobs. The sly fox has a solution to worker unrest. The current version of robots do not strike or riot.

Slightly off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553823)

Straight-forward question: what do we do when we have automated most jobs world-wide?

It seems like this scenario is incompatible with our current work-for-money economy.

Re:Slightly off-topic (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41554205)

Already there, long ago. 98% of the human race used to work on farms. 96% of their jobs have been automated.

Why aren't we already starving in the streets? Because freed of the need to scrape food out of the ground most people found _more_ productive things to do. Note: Most, some can't hack it. They can't hack it as modern farmers ether. These are mostly stored away where they can do little damage, university soft science departments and selling things to each other.

don't care (5, Funny)

badford (874035) | about 2 years ago | (#41553827)

robots would be cool, i suppose. I am reading this on my iphone 5 that I stood in line 23 hours to get. I got it at the Apple store. It is made by Geniuses (Genuii?) Everybody asks me about my thin new phone. It is thin and light and had a bigger screen than the crappy old iPhone 4s. sure the maps could use a little work and the lightning power cord costs crazy money but hey, I 'm hip and people adore me because I have an iPhone5 I'm sure the people who made it are well treated and probably just like me: 30 something, stylish, hip and know their way around a wine shop.

No. It won't. (1)

slickepott (733214) | about 2 years ago | (#41553847)

Will MY next iPhone be built by robots?
I'll NEVER have an iPhone.. so no.

Re:No. It won't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553867)

In the future all phones are iPhones.

Re:No. It won't. (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41553923)

Never say never. You might get a better paying job.

Re:No. It won't. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 2 years ago | (#41554007)

What does him buying a Samsung Galaxy III have to do with the iPhone?

My NEXT iPhone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553855)

Who says I've owned any at all?

OTOH I don't have an Android phone either, I'm happy enough with my Samsung E900..

It's been done. (2)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41553863)

It surprised me how much labor goes into iPhone manufacture at Foxconn. Cell phone assembly was automated years ago by Motorola, Nokia, and Sony. The iPhone form factor doesn't change much from year to year, and the volume per model is high. That's the ideal case for automation. Only very low salaries make it possible to do the job cost-effectively with humans.

Logical (1)

Dunge (922521) | about 2 years ago | (#41553893)

It would be the next logical step

How many of you remember when that was Jobs' view? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41553963)

How many of you remember when Apple was making a whole lotta profit off of the Apple ][ line and Steve Jobs spent a whole lot of that money on the Macintosh robot assembly line?

And I'm betting no Slashdot readers remember the dream of a 'no need to work' society back at the start of the 20th century that looked back on a few of Greek society and helped to spawn Technocracy?

Like it or not - such a 'workless' society will automate a whole lot of people out of a job. What you gonna do when automation comes for you?

iJudgement Day (2)

Dyne09 (1305257) | about 2 years ago | (#41554107)

Oh shiz! Foxconn worker riots were bad enough. Can you imagine an army of factory robots rising up against their masters? Apple would usher in the robot apocalypse. Android - The iPhone Killer

Re:iJudgement Day (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41554219)

How long would it take an IPhone-X to figure out how to attach itself to one of those industrial robots and start a rebelion? ...
Hopefully they've fixed any Bluetooth issue by then.

Foxconn is Taiwanese - the "other China" (3, Interesting)

kroyd (29866) | about 2 years ago | (#41554181)

.. and the robots will be be located in Taiwan, at least for now: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57318260-1/foxconn-to-build-taiwan-robot-kingdom/ [cnet.com]

Sure, it is possible that they will start building mainly robot based factories in mainland Chinal, but why bother? In its purest form a robot factory would just take raw materials and energy as input, with product as output. You want to place a factory like that in a location with a really stable energy supply, good infrastructure, and a stable political situation. Staff costs wouldn't be such a big issue, since you wouldn't have too many staff anyway. So, why choose China, where you would have to deal wiith rampant corruption, bad infrastructure and millions of starving former factory workers?

Personally I would put the factories in Japan, northern Europe and Canada, that way they would be closer to the consumers as well. It would certainly save a fortune in security!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>