But why is the rum gone?
This sounds like a joke article.
The cost of automating so much production at once will bankrupt whoever tries it.
PS: it kind of completely destroys the reason why the factories would be in China in the first place.
The world's biggest computer components vendor plans to replace nearly its entire factory workforce with robots by 2014. Foxconn, which makes kit for Apple, Sony and Nokia, said it would cut loose staff and reduce labour costs by automating spraying, welding and assembling jobs at its factories in China, where harsh working …
... by robot suicide.
The good thing about robots as far as Chinese corporations are concerned is that they eliminate the following snags:
- accusations of eexploiting underaged robots.
- accusations of making the robots work too long hours without breaks.
- accusations of unsafe working conditions for robots.
Things it doesn't help:
- Low wages for robots. Human workers were probably not paid much more than a robot anyway.
Now I'll go back to play with all my made in China gadgets, hence contributing to an unfair system of exploitation and delocalisation. Hey, I never said I wasn't an hypocrit. But these days, who isn't?
The root meaning of the word robot is forced labor or serf labor.
The word robot was first used by the Czech writer Karel Capek in his play Rossum's Universal Robots and comes from the Czech word robota means literally 'corvee'*, 'serf labor', 'drudgery' or 'hard work' in Czech.
Seems like foxconn has their robots already
* corvee is a form of labor that is imposed on people of a lower social standing by their superiors and the only difference between corvee and slavery in that the worker is not owned outright.
The original Czech meaning of the word "robot" is interesting, but has no influence on its modern English meaning. In South Africa, I understand, the word is used to mean what Brits call a "traffic light". This is also interesting, but is no more relevant than the "slave/peasant" meaning to the topic under discussion here.
The managing director of Foxconn was tragically killed today outside the Foxconn plant in China. Early reports suggest that he has been crushed to death by a robotic arm that was attempting the world's first recorded incident of "robot suicide". The arm has been offered theraputic programming and a firmware upgrade and should be back at work soon, once they've finished scrapping the managing director off him.
The numbers don't add up, in the very worst case a single small cheap robot might do the work of 1 human, but humans don't work all day long (not even those employed at Foxconn), so 1.2M people will only do around 400000 "full time" jobs. On top of that not every human can be replaced, and a lot of the robots in an automated production will do the job of several humans.
So unless they also plan a massive increase of production capacity there is no way the numbers of this story adds up.
They dont if you look at the current production.
However this will have exactly increased production capacity in mind. They produce electronics for hundreds of big names. all with major launches on their cards.
If Foxconn wants to remain competitive, it needs to ensure costs are managed, quality is confirmed and that capacity can be achieved.
The problem with meatbags is that costs nearly always go up, quality has to be checked and verified and those increase further with increased capacity.
Ultimately the people will be paid by the country not to work.
The country will be taking far more tax from the companies to pay the people to have a non-work life balance, but the profits at the companies will be so large they won't care - they'll positively endorse the philanthropy.
Having a job will be left to those volunteers who like to keep themselves busy. The computers and robots will be designing and building their own replacements anyway.
Meanwhile in other news, scientists have proven that the Higgs Boson far from being the God particle, is in fact God herself, and that major religious groups were in fact all wrong.
In the '70's we were all going to have by now so much leisure time as a result of technology.
All we've done in the west is offshore all the lower value manufacturing jobs. No-one really foresaw the social and economic results of extensive unemployment. Only Jeremy Kyle seems to have gained from this.
Now the same could be coming to China.
Interesting times ahead.
1 Million robots at capital cost of £15k each? £15 Billion?! double this for the installed cost. Conservatively each robot will take at least 1 person month to design, build, install commission and handover. 1 million months is about 80k years? to be completed in 2 years is 40k people.
Either it wont happen or they're not robots or it is a massive boost to the automation industry. But with more people out of work who will buy the product?
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That would require large amounts of capitol investment. Also, if Lord Jobs and Co started building an automated factory in the US, screaming hordes of unionists would burn it down.
The lack of Unions (and the accompanying lack of worker representation) in China is the reason Foxconn can get away with this.
It's sad that just about every manufacturer found it easier to outsource so many jobs when automation would at least have kept the profits in the western world, as opposed sucked into China and India, never to return.
...then why not in the USA? China has the advantage of cheap labour. If robot technology is getting good enough that not even dirt cheap and overworked humans can remain cost-effective, then it might be that the domestic consequences of off-shoring will be in decline. Wont happen instantly of course, so the question is will the uptake of robot production kick in before Western manufacturing entirely collapses?
and right now most western countries are raising debt ceilings and arguing about how much to borrow, lend or print..
It's a race against time to get the cheapest most efficient next-generation labour force on the ground, and China is leading the way by the looks of it. It will never get cheaper than robots, unless the robots start manufacturing robots, and then well, see SKYNET posts above...
Simple. Never buy their products.
If they can't make the people work , we have no use for them.
The whole thing is counterproductive and even in China , they probably
raise serious objections at a factory laying off a million people.
Indeed .. replace all people with machines , put everyone out in the street and see how long the economy of any given country survive.We need administrators that have a clue.Simple
You can't treat people like this and expect to survive long.
To all FoxConn employees : general and indefinite strike NOW.
Let em deal with the crap they created in their little used brains.
Better : write their customers ( apple etc ) and tell them that as long as they support and deal with businesses that treat their employees like crap that you wont buy their products.
Refuse to play the game and help real human beings treated like dirt.
You seem to have forgotten that unfortunately my country, America exported among other things, its traditional method of labour relations: "My way or highway."
I read my employment offers/contracts and in America, and much of the world (particularly places being outsourced to), employment is on an 'at-will' basis. That effectively means that the company can fire anyone, for any reason (without stating that reason, hence anonymous coward). And the burden is on employee to prove dismissal was illegitemate (hence forth marking them for retaliation or at least a hostile work environment.)
It kinds blows, but that’s why outsourcing is cheap: no unions, labor relation, living wages,etc.
Incidently, if a company is considering outscourcing or using foreign contractors like this, they are thinking with their checkbooks and projected production costs. Based on the success of Wallmart, what we think is a moot point.
China probably doesn't care, a likely response is indifference or failling that embracing automation as a 'bold leap forward', (not unlike some Communist Party campaign of past years.)
Most of the electronic assembly work is already done by robots and has been for the last 20 or so years.
Most of the manual effort in electronic manufacture was taken away by surface mount and pick and place machines, each of which replaces dozens of workers.
So it you really wanted to save jobs in the electronics industry you're already twenty years too late.
Of course the flip side to this is asking yourself whether you'd be prepared to pay an extra $500 for an ipod so that it could be made by meat workers rather than robots.
So, the labour pool can be superceeded by automatons that can easily perform the mundane physical tasks. This throws countless millions into unemployment.
I suppose eventualy, middle management and administrators in both the private and public sector, will become redundant as smarter programmes manage and administrate more efficiently than their error prone counterparts.
Why can't someone invent a robot that can procrastinate, lie and bullshit? Then we can sack all the politicians as well!
and these are the required letters
I have a dumb question/observation. In the West, especially in the US, we have a huge "skills mismatch" where tons of factory workers or service-industry people are out of work because of automation and outsourcing. Now, the plan is to put even more people out of work by automating production in the outsourced regions also?? Who in their right mind thinks this will end well?
We have an incredibly difficult time already finding qualified people to fill jobs where I work. What's going to happen when *all* of the manufacturing jobs are gone? Those jobs (used to) provide a semi-stable work environment and wage progression for people who weren't able to do "knowledge worker" kinds of jobs. If you couldn't even make it through high school in the past, you could at least get a job at the local factory, bust your butt and earn something approaching a living wage. Now, I only see a couple of outcomes:
1. French Revolution 2.0, complete with decapitations
2. The non-knowledge-worker types get pushed into education for knowledge worker jobs, pushing down the wages, skill level and driving other knowledge workers insane. (Already happening now...)
3. Some kind of "subsidy for not working" would have to be introduced to quell dissent.
I may be a Luddite, but I say we should bring back huge steel mills/factories employing 20,000 people at a shot. The work may have sucked, but at least it kept people busy. Otherwise, we may have to hide to avoid the guillotine!
Personally, I like the idea of the old system...it doesn't force people to chase promotions they aren't qualified for in order to keep advancing wage-wise. If I was a fantastic Systems Engineer II and never wanted to be a Systems Engineer III or (shudder) Manager of Systems Engineering, I could stay on a decent wage progression without topping out.
Anyone who watched "Lost in Space" back in the 60s knows what a robot is: something like Robbie. Robbie wasn't all that impressive, though. Sure, he knew the answer to any question, but he moved really slowly, and had only limited ability to manipulate physical objects.
But that was 50 years ago. Today's robots can probably travel at rocket-ship speeds, and have all the necessary manipulators to do any job faster than a human can. They must be able to think, of course, because Robbie was able to, and so were HAL, Robocop and any number of robots in movies and TV programs ever since.
Or am I confusing fiction with reality?
Robots that design robots? How does that work? Are we engineers here, or plebs who think that science fiction is just a future version of reality, in which trips to the stars, time travel and thinking toast-makers are just waiting to be invented by some eccentric professor in his basement?
The comments section of El Reg is one of the most intelligently populated forums I know of, but still I despair sometimes at the hivemind / luddite mentality.
Surely, I can't be the only person here who knows what a REAL robot/computer is, and isn't distracted by the comic-book ideas we read in our youth?
Hint: if you think that commanding a computer to calculate the exact value of pi will cause smoke to begin issuing from its orifices...
>I may be a Luddite, but I say we should bring back huge steel mills/factories employing 20,000 people at a shot.<
Or how about workhouses for the kids, or slavery - haven't built any pyramids for a while (although the Americans are ahead in that field already: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8289 - the prison industry in the US of A), or we could stop the women from voting, working or owning property...
Lots of ways to reduce unemployment.
"The bad news is robots can do your job now. The good news is we're now hiring robot repair technicians. The worse news is we're working on robot-fixing robots- and we do not anticipate any further good news."
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