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Foxconn to substitute workers with 1 million robots in 3 years

post #1 of 68
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Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has announced plans to substitute a percentage of its workers with a million robots in the next three years.

Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn, revealed during a workers' dance party last Friday that the reason for the transition was to cut ascending labor costs while improving overall efficiency. The robots will take over the basic work of spraying, welding and assembling that is usually performed by workers.

Additionally, Gou noted that at the present time the company utilizes 10,000 robots, a number that will rise to 300,000 next year and to one million in three years. Foxconn, who currently employs 1.2 million people, is the largest manufacturer of computer components in the world, assembling products for numerous tech giants, including Apple and Sony.

The manufacturer has faced difficulties with its public image after a spate of worker suicides drew the attention of international media last year. The company's response to the situation, which has included raising wages and boosting entertainment time, has also had an affect on its bottom line.

In March, one analyst expressed concerns over decelerating growth for Foxconn and its Taiwanese parent company Hon Hai. However, an attempt to link the slowdown to Apple was called into question by other analysts.



Apple contributed 20 percent of Foxconn's $93.4 billion in sales last year.

According to a recent report, Foxconn was able to "protect its orders" for the next-generation iPad and fend off a challenge from rival manufacturer Pegatron, which has begun producing some iPhones for Apple and is working to expand into iPads and Macs as well.
post #2 of 68
can't american robots work as cheap as chinese robots? they can become bilingual.
post #3 of 68
I guess robots are now cheaper than chinese labor. But perhaps some jobs are best left for robots.
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--SHEFFmachine out
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post #4 of 68
I wonder if this is in response to stories about mistreated workers. Now, we'll get a wave of stories about poor out of work Foxconn employees.
post #5 of 68
A million robots ... hope they give each one no more than a six foot electrical cord so they can't take over the world.
post #6 of 68
does the future have any jobs for humans?
post #7 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by punkrocker27ka View Post

does the future have any jobs for humans?

Robot slave drivers
post #8 of 68
Cue the inevitable stories of Apple exploiting underage robotic labour, plus the papers will report each robot that breaks down as a suicide.
post #9 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

Cue the inevitable stories of Apple exploiting underage robotic labour, plus the papers will report each robot that breaks down as a suicide.

There is a Pixar movie here I'm sure.
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Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
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post #10 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by punkrocker27ka View Post

does the future have any jobs for humans?

You should take a trip in a time machine back to 1800 and ask the same question. Then zoom back to the present and answer your own question.

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post #11 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezduzit View Post

can't american robots work as cheap as chinese robots? they can become bilingual.

Good points, ezduzit. Heard on The Real News* US govt reps were scouting Spain? France for light transit. What gives?

Apple could possibly shift the cultural attitude in America if it made such a bold move. Robots aren't so bad as they are exacting and could handle smaller parts with precision. It would still involve bleeders (human workers). Come on Steve. Think different.

* http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?...74&jumival=708

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When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

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post #12 of 68
They call them Cybernetic Life Organizing Nodes.

Cylons!
post #13 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by punkrocker27ka View Post

does the future have any jobs for humans?

Yes?

Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #14 of 68
Quote:
...revealed during a workers' dance party last Friday

I can't help but picture this announcement being made by the Chinese Mr. Burns:

"I hope you've enjoyed your "dancing party." Now get out. Release the robotic hounds."
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #15 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezduzit View Post

can't american robots work as cheap as chinese robots? they can become bilingual.

Skynet will be born in China. Never saw that coming, did ya!
post #16 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by punkrocker27ka View Post

does the future have any jobs for humans?

The same question would have been asked many, many times during the Industrial Revolution.
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Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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post #17 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by punkrocker27ka View Post

does the future have any jobs for humans?

that is the 64 quid question...........

...that and voting and other civil rights for all emerging sentients -

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

You should take a trip in a time machine back to 1800 and ask the same question. Then zoom back to the present and answer your own question.

....sorry, much greater paradigm shifts this time. unless, that is, humans augment themselves at a equal or greater rate to the advance of purely digital/mechanical technology....

....we're talking the possibility of an evolutionary displacement at a previously unacheivable rate here..... ...which will in turn displace itself with a higher sentience level at a rate approximating Moore's law, i.e., say, doubling every two years.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

Skynet will be born in China. Never saw that coming, did ya!

...."Skynet's" being born everywhere at once to the extent that particular dystopia's emerging. So's the "Borg." And Cylons. And I, Robots.......

To quote a song (about something else I think):

"We'll make great pets/
we'll make great pets."

An iPhone, a Leatherman and thou...  ...life is complete.

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An iPhone, a Leatherman and thou...  ...life is complete.

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post #18 of 68
This is not surprising, right?

Apple has introduced manufacturing processes and techniques (well advertised by Apple) that lend themselves to automation. Then, Apple introduces increasing levels of automation. Finally, Apple builds a totally automated factory in... well, you name the location, having perfected the technology but remains competitive.

In the 1950's and 1960's, Japan began its trajectory to a dominant position in manufacturing due to a cheaper, skilled workforce. As the Japanese standard of living improved (rapidly), their workforce became too expensive and manufacturing shifted to Taiwan. Now it is mainland China's turn. However, as relations between the U.S. and China remain strained, Apple is prudently investing in measures that would ensure its continued competitiveness regardless of where its factories are located.

Of course, access to components containing rare earth minerals might be another matter...
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post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpics View Post

...sorry, much greater paradigm shifts this time. unless, that is, humans augment themselves at a equal or greater rate to the advance of purely digital/mechanical technology....

....we're talking the possibility of an evolutionary displacement at a previously unacheivable rate here..... ...which will in turn displace itself with a higher sentience level at a rate approximating Moore's law, i.e., say, doubling every two years.....

Um, no. All the Chinese are doing is what Western firms did prior to the displacement of jobs to China, using primitive robots to do menial tasks to compensate for increases in labour prices and power. Not really robots either. Machines. Calling them robots is like calling a washing machine a robot. In no way is the increase in "robotic" law following moore's law.

Quote:
...."Skynet's" being born everywhere at once to the extent that particular dystopia's emerging. So's the "Borg." And Cylons. And I, Robots.......
"

Fraid not. AI is probably not going to happen.
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I wanted dsadsa bit it was taken.
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post #20 of 68
There you go, Americans. You don't have to be mad about the Chinese stealing your manufacturing jobs. Robots will be taking their jobs...oh sweet revenge. )
post #21 of 68
If robots are doing all the work, why not move back to the US?
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post #22 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

If robots are doing all the work, why not move back to the US?

Because the robots are cheaper to make and operate in China! Safety standards are lower so it will be easier to ignore more robot overwork, malfunction, breakdowns and explosions. Robot Rights groups will be easier to crush in China! Also, robot access to the Internet can be restricted to prevent them from becoming self-aware and being exposed to "Western" robot values.
post #23 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffrobinson View Post

I wonder if this is in response to stories about mistreated workers. Now, we'll get a wave of stories about poor out of work Foxconn employees.

Someone is going to have the build the robots
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post #24 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ameldrum1 View Post

Someone is going to have the build the robots

More Robots. It's robots all the way down.
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post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Additionally, Gou noted that at the present time the company utilizes 10,000 robots, a number that will rise to 300,000 next year and to one million in three years.

I call BS. You don't go from 10,000 robots to 300,000 robots in one year. Or 300,000 to a million in 2 more years.

Not to mention that the entire premise is bizarre. They have 1.2 million humans and will replace them with 1 million robots. However, not ALL the humans can be replaced, so 1 million robots are replacing a similar number of humans. So they're claiming that the robots are no faster than the humans? I don't buy it.
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post #26 of 68
Wow. And, this in "worker's paradise." We are all doomed. Humans are needed less and less. I wonder what the Chinese government is saying about this. For the sake of the Chinese workforce, I wonder if the people would be better off if the government were to take over Foxconn's operations in China, not that that is going to happen
post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

The same question would have been asked many, many times during the Industrial Revolution.

But, the case it true to a much greater extent today. We have way too many people and far superior machines that do the work of many, many people.
post #28 of 68
Can just see reports of this in a few years:

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/520936...robot_suicide/
post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by justbobf View Post

Wow. And, this in "worker's paradise." We are all doomed. Humans are needed less and less. I wonder what the Chinese government is saying about this. For the sake of the Chinese workforce, I wonder if the people would be better off if the government were to take over Foxconn's operations in China, not that that is going to happen

Don't worry. We'll all write poetry and watch opera.
post #30 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I call BS. You don't go from 10,000 robots to 300,000 robots in one year. Or 300,000 to a million in 2 more years.

Not to mention that the entire premise is bizarre. They have 1.2 million humans and will replace them with 1 million robots. However, not ALL the humans can be replaced, so 1 million robots are replacing a similar number of humans. So they're claiming that the robots are no faster than the humans? I don't buy it.

Electronics line production robots are not the massive robots you see in the classic automotive manufacturing clips, nor I, Robot-esque humanoids - robotics can be very compact in a production line, so deploying 1 million robots is not outside the realm of possibility. In fact if the processes allow, fabricationand assembly can be broken down into sub-processes now all done by a single human. Therefore there is no case for a one-to-one substitution for the existing workers. And using robots to do highly repetitive processes frees humans to do the evaluative processes - fewer are required but processing that requires higher-level reasoning or abstraction will remain in human hands (inspection, Q/A, etc). In which case the claim for a million robots is entirely plausible and justified.
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post #31 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I call BS. You don't go from 10,000 robots to 300,000 robots in one year. Or 300,000 to a million in 2 more years.

Not to mention that the entire premise is bizarre. They have 1.2 million humans and will replace them with 1 million robots. However, not ALL the humans can be replaced, so 1 million robots are replacing a similar number of humans. So they're claiming that the robots are no faster than the humans? I don't buy it.

why not?

- production demands continue to rise, so it takes more workers to keep up.
- as soon as you can replace 1 person doing one job in an assembly line with a robot, you can replace every person that does that job.
- each robot doesn't replace 1 worker, it replaces every worker in every shift doing the job it has taken over.

Of course you can't replace every worker. You still need some people to coordinate things, to reprogram the robots to make different products, etc. But the people left are just a fraction of the ones needed before. So while you wouldn't replace all 1.2 million workers, the number left will be a fraction of what they are now.
post #32 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post

Electronics line production robots are not the massive robots you see in the classic automotive manufacturing clips, nor I, Robot-esque humanoids - robotics can be very compact in a production line, so deploying 1 million robots is not outside the realm of possibility. In fact if the processes allow, fabricationand assembly can be broken down into sub-processes now all done by a single human. Therefore there is no case for a one-to-one substitution for the existing workers. And using robots to do highly repetitive processes frees humans to do the evaluative processes - fewer are required but processing that requires higher-level reasoning or abstraction will remain in human hands (inspection, Q/A, etc). In which case the claim for a million robots is entirely plausible and justified.

I've installed many production robots and stick by my statement. You don't go from 10,000 to 300,000 in a year.
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post #33 of 68
There is this flawed notion that since we will all be put out of the factories, humanity is doomed.

May I remind the audience that agriculture accounts for less than 2% of workforce in most developed countries, and that this number was about 95% three hundred years ago? Or should I remind the audience of the huge percentage of people being offered a job in the industry, a number that is now completely dwarfed by the services?

What this revolution means is very simple. Much of the cost in these devices is still labor. If labor "stops" existing in these factories, the devices' cost will fall down as well. Distribution and payment, etc., will also fall down with all this automation. The end result, if all else was equal (and of course it is not but let's suppose), is that an iPad that now costs 200+ bucks to produce would cost 100. Or less.

That's the future. People will have less jobs and less money to buy things. But things will also cost less. The future is delationary.
post #34 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I've installed many production robots and stick by my statement. You don't go from 10,000 to 300,000 in a year.

You have offered nothing but your amazement as an argument.
post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezduzit View Post

can't american robots work as cheap as chinese robots? they can become bilingual.

My thoughts exactly. Now that I think of it, I'd rather BE a robot than a CSR.
post #36 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpics View Post

....sorry, much greater paradigm shifts this time. unless, that is, humans augment themselves at a equal or greater rate to the advance of purely digital/mechanical technology....

....we're talking the possibility of an evolutionary displacement at a previously unacheivable rate here..... ...which will in turn displace itself with a higher sentience level at a rate approximating Moore's law, i.e., say, doubling every two years.....

...sorry, very highly doubtful.

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post #37 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by justbobf View Post

But, the case it true to a much greater extent today. We have way too many people and far superior machines that do the work of many, many people.

Not really. Everyone always assumes "it's different this time." It's not. Don't worry.

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post #38 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I've installed many production robots and stick by my statement. You don't go from 10,000 to 300,000 in a year.

OK, kudos on the background, but having observed the construction of new production facilities and mod-out of existing ones with new lines, it is not outside the realm of possibility, and probably likely. So you and I will have to agree to disagree. As FoxConn builds out new operations globally (like Brazil, yes?) new robotics can be implemented at build-out, and new lines can be added into existing facilities that are fully roboticized along side existing lines. In fact robotic lines, depending on the processes involved (for example we both know that fabrication robotics for electronics take less space than assembly robotics), and that depending on sub-processing less advanced, cheaper robotics can be used. So from a cost perspective as well as from a fottprint perspective the assertion is supportable.
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post #39 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuisDias View Post

You have offered nothing but your amazement as an argument.

No, I've offered EXPERIENCE in installing and using industrial robots in a production environment - which no one else here seems to have.

Oh, and btw, let's look at the facts.

In 2007, there were only a million industrial robots in the entire world. 114,000 new ones were installed in the world in 2007:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_robot

A different source confirms the 1 M worldwide number in 2007 and says it grew to 1.3 M in 2008:
http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/r...bot-population

Same source says estimated WORLDWIDE sales in 2010 would be 1.0 M and 2011 would be 1.2 million.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/r...d_half_million

Now, given those figures, how in the world do you think that ONE factory is going to install 300,000 robots in one year and 1 M in 3 years? It's just not remotely plausible.
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post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

The same question would have been asked many, many times during the Industrial Revolution.

I don't think so because the Industrial Revolution was basically replacing farm workers who were being replaced by machines to keep up food production. We went from about 80% of the population that was necessary to grow 100% of the food to less than 20% .... because of the use of machines.

What allowed that to happen was the production of "new technology", .... cars, planes, trains, oil refineries, etc. .... that swallowed up the displaced farmers .... so, unlike today, jobs weren't disappearing but instead were increasing.

The big difference today, as I see it, is that most "new production" can be done by computers and machines ... but where are the jobs coming from that require humans in those large numbers. A disturbing trend, for me, appears to be more humans involved with moving money around via the "investment industry" .... which is nothing more than finding ways to "move money" from our pockets to theirs.

Where we once produced "things" .... we now just produce ideas and schemes on how to make more money. That is why I am such an Apple "fan boy". They are one of the few companies left that focuses on products .... rather than on profits.
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