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Robotics Businesses China

Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots 530

redletterdave (2493036) writes The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service. Foxconn said its new "Foxbots" will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their "final testing phase."
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Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:11PM (#47404541)

    This is great news! Zero income means zero income taxes. How much food can I buy with zero dollars?

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:11PM (#47404543) Journal

    Hey, for those of you who insist that you deserve $15/hour for your shitty, replaceable, skill-less role in some fast food establishment, you might want to pay attention.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:14PM (#47404547)

    Could we get someone with a third grade education to post stuff?!?! This is getting worse and worse..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:20PM (#47404559)

    Crime rates will increase until cost of living decreases.

  • by Mistakill ( 965922 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:27PM (#47404583)
    If everyone loses their jobs, who will be able to buy the products?
  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:51PM (#47404683)

    Karl Marx saw this coming over 150 years ago

    The final end result of mass mechanized production is that the available workers will far outnumber the available jobs, and this is the problem that communism was intended to solve.

    Unfortunately, communism has earned a fatally bad reputation after being misused by so many dictators during the 20th century.

  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:53PM (#47404693) Homepage

    But an assembly line manned by robots? Why should that be cheaper in China? Is capital that much cheaper?

    Even if wages and other costs were equal, the location advantage is substantial. It's not that it's cheaper in China, but that it's cheaper in the huge manufacturing hubs. You have suppliers and manufacturers for just about every single component you need without long-distance shipping, and a deep pool of design and manufacturing expertise working in the area.

    That's not to say you can't manufacture efficiently elsewhere (we have plenty of recent examples such as the Raspberry Pi), but that the advantages has as much to do with the concentration of resources as with the cost of labour and regulations. And of course, as this inudstry becomes ever more automated, it no longer matters much for jobs where it happens any longer.

  • by isoTaime ( 2659889 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:07PM (#47404765)

    The real problem with this is that our countries are run by greedy fucking bastards. When there is nothing to exchange for money (which is exchanged for food, shelter etc..), then where will the masses get their daily bread? Who will share in all the new wealth? You can bet your ass that if everything is automated, it will be to the advantage of the already rich and elite and they will share NOTHING with the rest of us. Why the hell would they? After all, THEY were the ones who paid for and built the robots. We will get nothing and it will be worse than it already is because the rich and elite won't need us human slaves anymore. In fact, it will be better for them if we all just died and stopped breathing their air, eating their food and rummaging on their land.

    If you think that an autonomous future is a bright one (even though it really SHOULD be) then you are sadly mistaken. Welcome to the future where human slaves are no longer needed and no one gives a flying fuck what happens to lesser people like us because a cappuccino and a blow job can be summoned through an app while they're still wrapped in Egyptian cotton on the 18th floor of their high rise loft.


  • Unfortunately, communism has earned a fatally bad reputation after being misused by so many dictators during the 20th century.

    The murder part of communism is a necessary component to deal with people who don't want to play along. That's why it happens all the time. If you don't want to play by the rules of a society that has anything resembling a market economy, the outcome is well known: Your standard of living slides down to the lowest your fellow citizens will tolerate seeing.

    If you don't want to play by the rules of a society with a Marxist economy, well, abject poverty is always an option there, too. A rather common one. But if you want to work for yourself, and keep a significant portion of the fruits of your labor? Well, sorry, that's where the murder comes in. Against the fundamental rules of the society, you see.

    If you disagree, kindly tell me what you do with people in your ideal communist society who want to put in above-average effort, and reap the extra rewards. Besides murdering them. The communist societies that exist within larger market economies can eject slackers, and the motivated can simply leave. The societies that are entirely communist need other options. Exiling the motivated will simply rapidly impoverish those that remain.

  • by daninaustin ( 985354 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:15PM (#47404797)
    Unfortunately? I'd say it's quite fortunate and well deserved. The 94 million victims might also disagree with you (well, they would if they hadn't died from starvation, firing squad, etc.)
  • by DamnStupidElf ( 649844 ) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:25PM (#47404861)

    Both Capitalism and Communism are supposed to be about maintaining the work force, so guess where we all are today?

    A nominally capitalist country pays a communist country for much of its manufacturing because it's cheaper, instead of employing its own citizens. So the logical next step is to just buy the robot factory workers from China to replace workers in the U.S. to save on shipping costs.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:27PM (#47404867)

    If you disagree, kindly tell me what you do with people in your ideal communist society who want to put in above-average effort, and reap the extra rewards.

    How are those *fundamentally* different from the people in my current society who want to take more than their allocated reward? Pretty sure we don't MURDER them.

    Exiling the motivated will simply rapidly impoverish those that remain.

    Calling them "the motivated" is a fallacy out of the gate. It has naught to do with motivation, and everything to do with them being criminals by the standards of the society.

    I know plenty of people who are motivated to produce art, music, entertainment, and science for little to no unreasonable 'extra' reward beyond what they could otherwise earn for less effort. They do it because they enjoy these pursuits. You seem to discount them existing and suggest that the only reason anyone is motivated is so that they can "reap all fruits" for themselves. This is not the sole source of motivation, and it is arguably not the best source either.

    Take a small commune of farmers, one farmer smarter than the others, discovers a technique to improve production -- shares it with the others, and they all benefit from increased leisure time. Why do you argue he would be NECESSARILY not motivated to do this? Because he doesn't gain an edge over his peers? That's absurd.

    Communisum has a lot of real problems but having to "murder" people who are "motivated" is not one of them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:43PM (#47404903)

    It really is the best if your goal is equality in poverty,

    No one has done it "correctly" because it's founded on a fatally flawed understanding of human nature. Workers are lazy and will not produce if they don't have to. Governments with totalitarian powers will never wither away.

    Eventually people get bored enough that they want to do something. Travel the world or tinker with devices or take photos or paint. Many people are stuck where they are due to their employment situation.

    If I wasn't looking for a job to feed and house myself, I'd be working on my own projects. Every time I think of working on it, I get distracted by the knowledge that I would have a better use of time putting out resumes.

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @12:00AM (#47404961)

    China has a massive manufacturing hub in the hong kong - shenhzen - guangzhou region because a huge collection of components are available there, with a large collection of factories and workers who can flexibly shift between factories to meet rapidly variable demand (particularly for somewhere like foxconn who work for many related businesses - oh, dell you can wait 48 hours while we throw together 100k phone screens for apple who need them right now, and in 48 hours we'll have enough staff brought on board to do both).


    If you're important enough and need enough made they'll shut down schools for you to get more workers. And the areas are small (relatively) stand in the centre draw a 100Km circle around yourself and you've got 120+ million in a giant megacity making stuff for the world. It's amazing and terrifying and a lot of other things all at once. Imagine what the industrial revolution London did to the world - only 100x bigger. And that's thing - while some of the advanced semiconductor components are made elsewhere still so much of the supply chain, glass, displays, the motherboards, the plastic etc. etc. etc. all in a tiny little radius all shipped out around the world in 3 days.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @12:10AM (#47404989) Homepage Journal

    The final end result of mass mechanized production is that the available workers will far outnumber the available jobs

    That assumption is not borne out by history. If it were true, we should already have arrived at that point long ago, since it used to be that 95-98% of human labor was dedicated to agriculture, and the number is more like 2% today. How is it that anyone has work to do? We dramatically expanded some jobs and invented lots of new ones, many of which would be utterly baffling or even ludicrous to farmers of a few centuries ago. What will people do in the future to add value? If I knew that, I could undoubtedly make several fortunes. But what I do know is that they'll do something. Perhaps the economy will mostly be service-based, driven by peoples' desire to be served by people rather than machines. Perhaps much of it will be highly-specialized, custom-tailored creative manufacturing, producing one-off, hand-made items. Maybe a lot of it will be creative or artistic, a world of painters, storytellers, etc. Maybe it will mostly be about designing and rushing to market the next mass-produced faddish gewgaw (this seems very likely to me). Some of it will definitely be around the design, care and feeding of the robots, even if much of that work becomes robot-assisted.

    What I do know is that as long as there are people there will be something person A wants from person B and vice versa, and with that basis for trade there will be an economy, and something akin to jobs.

    this is the problem that communism was intended to solve.

    That's revisionist history, ludicrously so. Marx never foresaw anything of the sort. He believed firmly in the labor theory of value, and as such all economic power derived from human labor, not from mechanical power. Communism was about combating the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few people who owned the means of production, at the expense of the masses who provided the labor (and hence the real value).

    His view was misguided in many ways, not least in that it almost completely ignores the value of intellectual work; the guy who figures out the right way to apply labor to raw materials is fantastically more effective than the one who does it the wrong way, and in fact this applies at all levels of the chain, up to and including the allocation of capital. Communism is inherently horrible at effectively allocating resources since it lacks the price signals that bundle cost and relative value and communicate them in a way that enables efficient allocation of resources to maximize what people collectively perceive as good, which is why communist economies always fail, and will always fail, even in the presence of automated systems that produce and distribute all of the essentials of life to everyone equally, even if said essentials include what we'd call luxuries. Those essentials will become the baseline expectation, much like oxygen, and economic competition will be around something else.

  • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @12:13AM (#47405009) Homepage
    Workers are lazy and will not produce if they don't have to.

    "As long as they pretend to pay us, we'll pretend to work."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @12:30AM (#47405059)

    Capitalism is a system designed to reward capitalists. Capitalists are those who have capital. Capital is money/resources/etc. It has nothing to do with maintaining a work force. Capitalism, in theory, uses greed of capitalists to produce the most efficient systems of production possible. More efficient production creates the most supply with the lowest prices.

    In reality, Capitalism produces monopolies. Monopoly is the natural end state of Capitalism. The big fish eat all the smaller fish, until there's only one big fish left. "There can be only one." Then, monopolies, given no competition and driven by greed, drive up prices and artificially restrict supply, thus creating great inefficiencies. It's like a pine forest, growing faster than all the trees around it, only to poison itself with acidic leaf litter once dominance is established.

    The capitalists don't care, because the proles can go eat cake or whatever. They're sitting on a mountain of money and resources and exist in a system where "greed is good." In reality, an economic system is ideal when it most fairly distributes resources those who need them. When 3 million people in your country are homeless, and Detroit is bulldozing 40 square miles of homes... your system of economics is completely fucked up.

    Replacing workers with robots is not inherently bad. Under the right economic model, having robots do all the work while humans have 100% leisure time would be an admirable goal. The problems begin when workers replaced by robots have no means to acquire food/shelter/resources. One solution might be to raise taxes on the capitalists and redistribute that in some way to the "have nots" but then companies like Apple hide hundreds of billions of dollars off shore to avoid said taxes.

    Apple doesn't need the money at all, while the poor starve to death. That makes Apple and other companies like Apple the most despicable group of people on Earth. It isn't just Tim Cook or Jeff Bezos or Larry Page. Companies are made by people and every single person working at Apple is contributing to the problem.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @12:51AM (#47405153)

    The whole premise of Communism is reliance on the worker, and protecting the worker (probably not the best choice of terminology but saves paragraphs of explanations) because the worker is the only way for bureaucrats to exist. Communism requires people to be busy at work, and if robots make people idle the system fails.

    Really? Quoting [wikipedia.org]:

    Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a socioeconomic system structured upon common ownership of the means of production and characterized by the absence of classes, money, and the state; as well as a social, political and economic ideology and movement that aims to establish this social order ...

    ... Communism becomes fully realized when the distinction between classes is no longer possible and therefore the state, which has been used as an instrument of class dictatorship, no longer exists. In the communist economy, production and consumption are fully socialized, and the processes for which are advanced into maximized automation, efficiency, and recycling.

    I don't know, but from reading this, one could certainly conclude that firing bureaucrats and replacing workers with robots wherever possible ought to be very high on any communist's agenda!

  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @01:24AM (#47405287)

    Please stop with the anti-communist propaganda, it's not 1960 anymore.

    Real communism doesn't even have a "boss"

  • by daninaustin ( 985354 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @01:52AM (#47405365)
    There is no real communism and there never will be.
  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @02:01AM (#47405385)

    Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But unless there is some serious decline in technological progress, it's more likely that it WILL happen eventually, even if it doesn't happen in our lifetime.

    This is the idea that drove Marx to come up with communism. He was there at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and he could see where mechanization would eventually lead. It just took a LOT longer than he was expecting, mostly because he didn't predict the invention of fast-food and starbucks which is the only thing that is currently keeping unemployment under control in the US.

  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @02:07AM (#47405397)

    As long as the machines are feeding the people, why would it matter if the work you do is productive?

    In Marx's vision of the world, he expected everyone to sit around and write poetry, while the machines did all the work.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @02:19AM (#47405421) Journal

    The whole premise of Communism is....

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". - Karl Marx.

    In otherwords everyone is a "worker" in a communist society (despite what you may think of bureaucrats and politicians). Marx thought that it would work because the communist movement belived technology was the road to equity. However they also belived that property above and beyond personal need was a barrier to the efficient use of technology and resources. Mao was a true communist in this respect in that he pulled down the "barrier" by forcing everyone to become a pesant farmer. The result was that millions starved to death.

    I was a teenager when they finally booted out the gang of four. In the 40 years since that time China has dragged more people out of poverty than the rest of the world combined by directing it's economy towards feeding, housing, and employing it's own people. It's a remarkable turn around, the only economic feat I can can think of that comes close to this kind of growth was the rise of Gengis Kahn.

    Both the US and China practise "crony capitilisim" (moderate facisism) these days, they just implement it differently. Actual reasearch [wikipedia.org] (as opposed to ideological naval gazing), into what makes a productive stable society indicates that the sweet spot for income disparity is somewhere around 10:1, ie: the top 1% earn 10X as much as the bottom 1%. Currently China has one of the worst equity ratings in the world, the US and Russia are about even but not that far behind China.

  • by sir-gold ( 949031 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @02:48AM (#47405511)

    There is no real communism...

    True, there is no such thing as real communism yet.

    and there never will be.

    That's a pretty bold statement, especially considering that the industrial revolution (the thing that originally inspired the invention of communism) hasn't actually ended yet.

    It's impossible to increase efficiency indefinitely without causing rampant unemployment at some point. Communism is a solution for a problem that hasn't quite happened yet (but it's silly to think it won't happen eventually).

  • by delt0r ( 999393 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:06AM (#47405901)
    The only people breeding are the poor people.
  • by Kevin Hu ( 3553411 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @06:49AM (#47406031)
    Should be "begins". Just a typo which happens to everybody.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @07:18AM (#47406101) Journal

    . Technological innovation usually leads to increased employment, as lower manufacturing costs lead to increased production, and expansion of non-automated jobs.

    1. People who lose jobs are not the ones who are going to get the newly created jobs.

    2. World population finally seems to have started stabilizing. It took longer to add the last billion than the previous billion. We are still adding but heading towards 9.5 billion rather than 12 billion. So number of new jobs created is less than the number of jobs being lost to automation.

    3. Most people can only do regular humdrum routine jobs. We evolved to hunt/gather do routine things. Not be on an ever accelerating treadmill of productivity and intellectual labor. I have performed at the top 1% of intellectual labor treadmill for 30 years now. Frankly I am tired. It ain't as much fun as people make it out to be. It is not sour grapes or anything, I got adequate returns for the labor. Still, I now realize routine humdrum jobs are the staple for humanity.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @07:40AM (#47406159) Journal

    Man, I wish I had mod points today, 'cause you're dead on. Having worked with a lot of people "outside of my class" as a consultant in a (mostly) non-technical field, there are a LOT of people out there who couldn't do the advanced jobs these semi-skilled labor machines "create." We are marching ever faster to a place where 80% of the people in the first world will be unemployable simply because it costs less to build and maintain a machine over its life than it costs to hire a worker for a single year. It will get to the point where we can retask, recycle, or recreate a machine to do many jobs in less time than it takes to re-train the average human to do the same job at even half the efficiency.

    The productivity gains from the industrial and information revolutions have not resulted in shorter work weeks for all, but rather a larger unemployed population. It's hard to imagine this will end well.

  • by chihowa ( 366380 ) * on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @09:22AM (#47406573)

    On whose land and with whose water will they grow this food? Mortgages, property taxes, and water rights will still be traded in the old economy. The lord won't tolerate anyone squatting on his land.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard