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China AI Robotics The Almighty Buck

China Wants To Be a Top 10 Nation For Automation By Putting More Robots In Its Factories (reuters.com) 141

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: China is aiming for a top-10 ranking in automation for its industries by 2020 by putting more robots in its factories, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) said. China's push to modernize its manufacturing with robotics is partly a response to labor shortages and fast-rising wages. But the world's second-largest economy still has far lower robot penetration than other big industrialized economies -- just 36 per 10,000 manufacturing workers in 2015, ranking it 28th among the world's most automated nations. By 2020, it aims to boost penetration to 150 per 10,000 workers, IFR said in a statement, citing Wang Ruixiang, President of the China Machinery Industry Federation. To help reach that goal, China aims for sales of 100,000 domestically produced industrial robots a year by 2020, up 49 percent compared with last year, the IFR said in a statement at an industry summit in Shanghai, where the Chinese federation's chief was speaking.
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China Wants To Be a Top 10 Nation For Automation By Putting More Robots In Its Factories

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • More to the point. Would it be economically feasible. In the US we automate because the costs of Automation is less than labor. However in China Labor is much cheaper. Going towards automation may put China in an economic disadvantage.

      • Part of the cost of automation being less than labor is you create unemployment. This is fine--it's how progress works--and the displaced labor creates a gap between prior cost and new cost, which eventually leads to lower prices (prices don't keep with inflation, in part because it's impossible to hold all prices at the same buying-power equivalent in an economy where the relative price of everything constantly shifts thanks to population expansion, money supply increase, and productivity gains all inter

        • It's possible, if the unemployment is high enough, that automation might force China to flirt with the concept of communism.

      • In the US we automate because the costs of Automation is less than labor. However in China Labor is much cheaper.

        The cost of Chinese labor is rising rapidly. The cost of automation is falling even more rapidly.

        Going towards automation may put China in an economic disadvantage.

        It puts them at a cost disadvantage against America and Europe. But it helps them against Vietnam and India.

      • However in China Labor is much cheaper.

        Not anymore. It's no longer cheaper to ship products on the ocean as it was before. All those up and coming workers are expecting better pay and benefits to support a middle income lifestyle. China need automation because labor is no longer cheaper.

      • More to the point. Would it be economically feasible. In the US we automate because the costs of Automation is less than labor. However in China Labor is much cheaper. Going towards automation may put China in an economic disadvantage.

        Due to its "One Child Policy" China has a rapidly aging and soon to be declining population. To compound the problem it also has a poor Health Care System and Horrible Environmental Pollution problems that leave much of its aging work-force with chronic and untreated health conditions and diminished productivity. In addition most of its untapped human-resources are rural Subsistence Farmers with no Experience and minimal Education. China's attempt to move from an export based Industrial Economy into a Marke

        • Due to its "One Child Policy" China has a rapidly aging and soon to be declining population.

          Well, that's easily solved: just do as Europe did and import millions of unlettered muslims. We're already enjoying great benefits here in Europe in such diverse areas as population reduction (with deadly attacks on a weekly basis), elimination of our freedoms, and of course cultural genocide!

          • Well, that's easily solved: just do as Europe did and import millions of unlettered muslims. We're already enjoying great benefits here in Europe in such diverse areas as population reduction (with deadly attacks on a weekly basis), elimination of our freedoms, and of course cultural genocide!

            Since Europe doesn't have the manpower or financial resources to maintain the kind of "watch" they really need to keep a lid on their recent immigrant population, they will resort to using more and more "digital invasiveness", which is a cheaper and easier way of dealing with it.

            In other words, Europe, like the US and other First World countries will become more and more police-state like to deal with the imagined and real threat from those populations, of which a very, very small number are actually any

            • That is the real reason why George Soros deliberately engineered the migrant "crisis". For control and profit.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Due to its "One Child Policy" China has a rapidly aging and soon to be declining population.

          Which is likely why it was changed to the "Two Child Policy" in January.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @01:48PM (#52562141) Homepage Journal

    And yet Trump keeps telling his rubes that jobs are coming back. They are not coming back. Workers will be replaced by robots. How he's going to force companies to manufacture in the USA without adding legislation (because he said he would reduce legislation against corporations) is beyond me...

    • You're supposed to cheer and chant, not listen and think.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      > How he's going to force companies to manufacture in the USA without adding legislation (because he said he would reduce legislation against corporations) is beyond me...

      Import tariffs and tax breaks.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      And yet Trump keeps telling his rubes that jobs are coming back. They are not coming back. Workers will be replaced by robots.

      There are barely more manufacturing jobs in the US than there are farming jobs. Those aren't the jobs people care about - we're a service economy now. Automation threatens to displace service workers the way it already has manufacturing workers - but that's far enough out that neither Trump nor his supporters are complaining about it.

      OTOH, service jobs (especially low-skilled) are being lost to lost to recent immigrants, and that's an immediate problem that a president can do something about. That's real

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      He will "create" jobs by causing war and chaos.

    • When he does it it's not legislation. It's taking the necessary actions to make America great again.

    • And yet Trump keeps telling his rubes that jobs are coming back. They are not coming back. Workers will be replaced by robots.

      Germany shows that it is not that bad, they have been heavily into automation for a while. Some different jobs are created, a lot of welders lost but a few electrical technicians added sort of thing. Economically speaking, robots or not the money is still being spent in the country and benefitting the country in various indirect ways. As opposed to outsourcing where all the indirect benefits go overseas.

      How he's going to force companies to manufacture in the USA without adding legislation (because he said he would reduce legislation against corporations) is beyond me...

      I think he said he would introduce some sort of tariff scheme when a trading partner's markets are not "o

      • by TheSync ( 5291 )

        Germany shows that it is not that bad, they have been heavily into automation for a while

        Yes but Germany is part of the harmonised trade system of the EU, and it is just as open to Chinese imports as the United States.

        Germany percent of workers involved in manufacturing has been going down [stlouisfed.org] of course.

        • None of that changes the fact that Germany has heavily invested in robotics and not suffered. Manufacturing jobs don't need to be low level work. Technical jobs supporting the robotics industry don't necessarily get counted as manufacturing.
    • What says that globalism, as practiced & supported by his opposition, is inevitable? The fear of Trump shows that jobs can come back with his kind of citizen-first policies.

      Those people who you call "rubes" are wiser for rejecting your clerisy - as the country has been worse for blindly accepting globalism. Citizens have rejected the false promises, especially those centering around trade, as they have only seen harm.

  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @01:50PM (#52562155) Journal
    And I want that '95 Chevy that you are buying from me to run like the best Ferrari you can imagine. Automation is what you do when machines are cheaper than people. And China isn't running out of people any time soon.
    • Re:aha (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Friday July 22, 2016 @02:12PM (#52562295) Homepage Journal

      China has a plan. They know that automation is both inevitable and also desirable (consistent quality, low cost, high end) and rather than just let their citizens be screwed by it they plan on transitioning them to service jobs.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The challenge with automation is what to do with the displaced workers. In Western societies, expectations for quality of life and income levels are already established as fairly high, which complicates discussions of replacing employment with a universal basic income. If you are faced with the transition from employment with a decent standard of living, to a UBI covering only the bare necessities of life, that doesn't look so attractive. While urban China is seeing the same trend, rural China not so much,

        • Universal health care and low cost education are needed in the USA.

          and we need to get rid of the 2/4/6 year piece of paper education that we have here.

          • Universal health care and low cost education are needed in the USA.

            Low cost health care and universal education are needed in the USA. There. Fixed it for you. What's the point of cheap college education for people who fail to learn much during free public school education? And what's the point of universal coverage if there aren't enough doctors to provide the care?

        • It would be ironic if "communist" (in almost no sense of the word) China managed to pull off a UBI, but would also offer huge propaganda benefits for the Chinese Communist Party, and Chinese nationalism in general (a potent and growing force). For that reason alone I would not be surprised if the government is thinking along those lines.

          You just made the best point in this whole discussion, and you are right on the money.

          The CCP is thinking exactly that: when less and less of their population actually works(and we all know its only a matter of time) they will be ahead of the curve in implementing what we "here in the West" call UBI.
          In a "communist" country like China, it will be called something quite different, and they will probably have it fine tuned and working great by the time they really need to implement it.

      • China has a plan. They know that automation is both inevitable and also desirable (consistent quality, low cost, high end) and rather than just let their citizens be screwed by it they plan on transitioning them to service jobs.

        If you insist that everyone have jobs, at some point someone has to get paid for making something. You can't have a service job if nobody has money to buy your services.

    • Automation is what you do when machines are cheaper than people

      How do you know? Cheapness comes in many forms, labour costs is one of them, but number of units produced per sqm of factory floor is another, cost of rework is another too.

      If human labour is so cheap then why did Foxconn recently say they've automated away 60000 jobs? Not cut back, not reduced because they missed profit targets, but automated away because it's cheaper and produces a more consistent product.

      • If human labour is so cheap then why did Foxconn recently say they've automated away 60000 jobs?

        A classic example of how to make an argument seem like it addresses a point, while in fact it just makes an entirely different point, is to counter an argument which draws a comparison between 2 values with an argument which talks about one absolute value; or the other way around -- to counter a point about an absolute value with an argument about a comparative value.

        I said automation is what you do when machines are cheaper than people. You countered that "Foxconn recently say they've automated away 6000

        • Actually it's more of an example of how you thought I addressed the WRONG point where as in fact I was addressing your entire post.

          Automation to reduce rework costs, reduce floor space expanding production, etc addressed the first part which was aimed at the whole "automation is what you do when machines are cheaper than people". This assertion is a load of crap and we automate a lot of things for very expensive reasons.

          And the second part "Foxconn recently say they've automated away 60000 jobs" was aimed a

          • Even within a society which has a very cheap price of labor there can exist people whose labor is very costly. Your example was inappropriate because it was an example of automating away jobs of just such people within China. China is not automating away the jobs of the people with lowest wages. It only makes sense to automate away the wages of those whose skills are in high demand, but who have little political sway or control over the process (highly-skill non-manager positions). So your example in no
  • Watch out If any of the robots build themselves legs so they can climb to the top of the factory and jump off. They may have become sentient.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who is going to buy all this stuff if they don't have jobs?

    • They're in the equivalent of the industrial revolution, using lots and lots of unskilled labor migrating off of farms into cities to do menial and dangerous jobs. The robots will replace some of them but not all of them. We're also in an era very different from the industrial revolution where lots of manufacturing can not be done by humans as the parts are too small to work with and the tolerances too demanding.

    • Who is going to buy all this stuff if they don't have jobs?

      And there lies the heart of the problem: purchasing power is coupled to having a job.

      As technology marches forward, that coupling has to be let go. Or at least loosened. The majority of the population needs to have some purchasing power even if there's no job for them. Think basic income [wikipedia.org].

      The alternative: (almost) everything automated, production equipment (including robots) in the hands of a few corporations & the billionaires at their top, with the rest of the population jobless / out of money (an

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        There will always be jobs, at least until the Singularity. This is just the Nth automation transition since the Industrial Revolution begun. It's no more (or less!) scary than any of them.

        The disaster you're predicting was predicted over and over throughout history, and it's just as wrong this time.

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          This is just the Nth automation transition since the Industrial Revolution begun. It's no more (or less!) scary than any of them. The disaster you're predicting was predicted over and over throughout history, and it's just as wrong this time.

          Past trends/patterns are not necessarily future trends/patterns.

          One thing that is different is that automation in the past mostly enabled people to do more, NOT replace them. Power tools and tractors still had a human operator. Second, "office work" (AKA "service econo

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Past trends/patterns are not necessarily future trends/patterns.

            No, but they're the best, sometimes only, evidence we have.

            One thing that is different is that automation in the past mostly enabled people to do more, NOT replace them.

            Nope. A great many professions have disappeared, or nearly so, over the centuries.

            Can YOU see it? The "New Thing" wasn't so hidden in the past.

            Everything's obvious in hindsight, but no one saw (or very few) what was coming, jobwise, until we were well into ramping up those new jobs.

            The only possibility I see right now is the "customization economy" where people get customized cars, landscaping, kitchens, etc.

            Customization will take off in areas where the base good both becomes nearly free due to automation, and where it works as a social status signal. Moving from "owning X confers status" to "your customization of X confers status, since everyone can own one now" is the one obvious trend. Heck, that's already most of fashion.

            I see "Helicopter Money" (HM) theory as one possible solution.

            "And we all had plenty of money, but there was nothing that money could buy". More money without producing more goods and services doesn't really achieve anything.

            We also have rotting infrastructure that needs repair, but no means to fund it.

            We certainly have the means to improve it, we just lack the will. The vast majority of state and local taxes these days goes to pension plan funding. Those money helicopters seems to hover over people the government likes - funny how that works.

            It may take a combination of HM, taxing the rich, socialism, and public works to crack this puzzle.

            That puzzle was cracked by capitalism every previous time, but this time is different because ... well, apparently, because you want free money.

            • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

              Everything's obvious in hindsight, but no one saw (or very few) what was coming, jobwise, until we were well into ramping up those new jobs.

              Do you have any evidence of this? When cars replaced horses, automobiles presented manufacture, repair, and refueling jobs almost immediately. It's true horse experts probably fell on bad times, but in general, new car-related jobs were already appearing and booming.

              When factories started disappearing overseas in the late 1970's, the term "service economy" was coined fo

              • by lgw ( 121541 )

                Do you have any evidence of this? When cars replaced horses, automobiles presented manufacture, repair, and refueling jobs almost immediately.

                Car-related jobs did very little to replace horse-related jobs at first (number-wise). It was only after cars had been around for quite some time that Ford made them cheap enough that more people could own cars than previously owned horses that job replacement started to become meaningful.

                Manufacturing brought product after product into the purchasing ability of common man that he either could never have afforded, or only afforded for the head of the household.

                That's been the trend. The new jobs are in st

                • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                  Manufacturing brought product after product into the purchasing ability of common man that he either could never have afforded

                  Perhaps so, but that's a different issue. I'm talking about jobs and the general economy.

                  We know that's not true from decades of deflationary pressure in Japan.

                  Japan has not directly tried HM.

                  you can't create demand for money by increasing the supply.

                  Demand for money? Who's talking about demand for money?

                  politicians not giving a shit about any problem they could kick down the road.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        And there lies the heart of the problem: purchasing power is coupled to having a job.

        As technology marches forward, that coupling has to be let go. Or at least loosened. The majority of the population needs to have some purchasing power even if there's no job for them. Think basic income.

        Or we could create more jobs. I'd take concerns like yours seriously, if we weren't strangling employment in the developed world, and if the rest of the world, including China, showed similar problems. Instead, what we see is massive increase in productive employment throughout the rest of the world and a really hostile environment to employment in the developed world. Maybe we should go with what works?

        The alternative: (almost) everything automated, production equipment (including robots) in the hands of a few corporations & the billionaires at their top, with the rest of the population jobless / out of money (and in the extreme case: out of housing or food). Great recipe for say, a nice little civil war. As it has been several times in history.

        And once again, we have the threats. Your approach isn't working. The laws protecting developed world lab

  • China has an endless supply of people that will work for next to nothing. You'd think they would be the last ones to be looking into robots.

    • As China becomes more wealthy, the workers request higher pay.

    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      China has an endless supply of people that will work for next to nothing. You'd think they would be the last ones to be looking into robots.

      Labor force doesn't increase productivity, capital does.

      Take 10,000 workers and they still could not make a single microprocessor without the capital equipment to grow silicon crystals, photolithography, wafer handling in clean rooms, etc.

  • If you are going to automate an entire factory then why would it matter where that factory is? If we are going to go down the fully automated track then the factories might as well get built locally.
  • I think this is a mixture of forward thinking and xenophobia. China is a major importer of industrial robots, and Japan is a major exporter of industrial robots. http://www.worldstopexports.co... [worldstopexports.com]

    For most basic manufacturing jobs cheap labor can't compete with good automation.
  • why use china robo factory when you can do the same in the USA with quicker and cheaper shipping + less risk of the 3rd shift making cheap knock offs.

    • Because if we manufactured here in the US then we can't burn billions of tons of high carbon heavy grade crude sludge to power those container ships that fill the pacific with a slowly swirling morass of plastic for sea birds to choke on, etc;

      Carry on...
    • why use china robo factory when you can do the same in the USA with quicker and cheaper shipping + less risk of the 3rd shift making cheap knock offs.

      Because in the USA you can't simply dump your waste in the stream behind the factory, power costs half a much, and there's far less regulation required to build such a factory.

  • So, what do we need them for then? We already make our own robots. I guess we've reached peak population finally. I also read that most millennials do not want children (no source, sorry). With good reason, I'd say.
  • To all appearances, Chinese businessmen (as well as their government, of course) treat their own people like automatons to start with, not like human beings, so of course it seems like a no-brainer to dispense with as many troublesome, cost-ineffective, high-maintenance hoo-mans as possible. After all, it's completely unfair that these 'hoo-mans' demand pay, rest, bathroom breaks, etc! What do you mean, they aren't capable of working 24/7/365? Obviously they must be lazy and entitled and should be eliminate
    • Greed is not a trait uniquely possessed by Chinese business people, you racist.

      • How is his comment racist?
        He mentioned Chinese businessmen and government exploiting Chinese workers.
      • racist

        Fuck you. This has nothing to do with race, it has EVERYTHING to do with China's human rights record and news stories EVERYONE (except you apparently) have been reading for YEARS about how workers are treated in China. So how about you shut the fuck up, asshole?

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