Taiwan's Foxconn to use one million robots by 2014

Aug 01, 2011
Foxconn employs more than one million workers at its Chinese plants
Taiwan IT giant Foxconn -- hit by a spate of suicides at its Chinese plants -- plans to replace 500,000 workers with robots in the next three years, state media reported.

Taiwan IT giant Foxconn -- hit by a spate of suicides at its Chinese plants -- plans to replace 500,000 workers with robots in the next three years, state media reported Monday.

Foxconn -- the world's largest maker of computer components, which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia -- plans to use one million robots to do "simple" work, China Business News quoted chairman Terry Gou saying.

Gou announced the plan to 10,000 staff at a company event in Shenzhen on Friday, various media reports said.

currently has 10,000 robots doing painting, welding and assembly tasks. It will increase that number to 300,000 next year and to one million in 2014, the report said.

A Foxconn spokesman could not be immediately reached by AFP for comment.

The Taiwan-based company employs more than one million workers at its Chinese plants, about half of them based in its main facility in the southern city of Shenzhen.

At least 14 workers have died in apparent suicides since last year, most of them in Shenzhen. Activists blamed the deaths on tough working conditions and have called for better treatment of staff.

Foxconn has been expanding its workforce in other parts of China as it seeks to scale back the size of its plant.

The firm opened a $2 billion Chengdu plant in October, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

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User comments : 34

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Sean_W
3 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2011
Any company or organization with hundreds of thousands of people will see spates of suicides from time to time, even when things are doing well. Doing repetative tasks fast and accurately to mass produce products is not a lifestyle we should be concerned about preserving. Would anyone advise somone they cared about to follow that career path. "Hey son, learn to solder the same two parts together endlessly for years at a time. It's very fulfilling."
Sean_W
1 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2011
If someone wants to solder and weld, help them learn to do something with it that doesn't involve being a living robot.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2011
Fox news is another con that already uses robots. But they use them to report fictional Tea-Tard news.
Isaacsname
1 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2011
I'm thinking of starting a new movement:

P.A.T.I.O.

P.eople A.gainst T.he I.nanimate O.bjects.

Who's with me ?
Burnerjack
not rated yet Aug 01, 2011
So, where are they getting all these robots from?
I'm curious as to why these workers choose death over alternative work.
Is this suicide rate beyond the average rate for a population? As Sean W alluded, with a workforce of that size, it would seem reasonable that the workforce demographic would mirror the society at large.
aroc91
5 / 5 (2) Aug 01, 2011
Fox news is another con that already uses robots. But they use them to report fictional Tea-Tard news.


Relevance?
socean
5 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2011
A harbinger of the change that will affect us all. Jobs that robots, and AI, can do are leaving the workforce and are not coming back.

As soon as complex robots become self replicating and self evolving, millions of jobs will disappear forever.

I say, good riddance. Humans should not be used in lieu of machines.

Its time to start asking ourselves, "What are we all going to do when we become emancipated?" What will our new society look like?
grimson
not rated yet Aug 02, 2011
How about American robots??
YouAreRight
5 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2011
I expect the robots will start committing suicide too, once their number reaches 1 million.
TabulaMentis
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 02, 2011
What are atheists going to do when the robots become religious and start worshipping God?
kevinearllynch
5 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2011
We'll start questioning the competence of their programmers, of course
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
This is a very good thing if you love Liberty since Leisure is the ultimate Liberty.

It is a very bad thing if you intend to keep a lifestyle driven by Capitalism.

Remember... Leisure is the ultimate Liberty.

"A harbinger of the change that will affect us all. Jobs that robots, and AI, can do are leaving the workforce and are not coming back." - socean
nick7201969
5 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2011
If the robots start commiting suicide then maybe FoxConn needs to change their work environment.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
Pkunk_
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
Would anyone advise somone they cared about to follow that career path. "Hey son, learn to solder the same two parts together endlessly for years at a time. It's very fulfilling."


And yet , you want an iPhone for cheap? Who is going to make one if your son is too lazy to do it ?

The whole comment above smacks of an elitist attitude. Foxconn aren't forcing people to work in their factories. It is a scenario which has played itself out repeatedly through time .. One generation works hard and educates their children so they can do more high-paying work .

The children of the lazy bums who didn't do any work are forced to work hard to fill their stomachs and educate thier kids. Even if foxconn uses robots they're transferring the jobs to the people who make and maintain the robots.
crass
5 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
The whole comment above smacks of an elitist attitude. Foxconn aren't forcing people to work in their factories. It is a scenario which has played itself out repeatedly through time .. One generation works hard and educates their children so they can do more high-paying work .

No the company is not forcing people to work in the factory. The company does not have to as its the life situation that forces the people to work in their factory. In effect the people are being held over a barrel.
maxcypher
5 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
This scenario has been in the works for decades. I hope no one is surprised. Expect tremendous human suffering as we transform from a human-based to robot-based economy. Humans treat other humans worse than they treat their pets, so I don't expect that any safety net will be created for those displaced by automation.
Forestgnome
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2011
Remember when people stood their moral ground by not buying clothing made in countries that had sweatshops? Guess the fun and fashion of using Apple products overrides morality. Things change.
Dichotomy
5 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
This is the future of all manual labor. This and today's other robotics article make it pretty clear the days of "Irobot" are not that far away. Every company on the planet will be more than willing to buy a robot for 20,000USD that can be worked 16 hours a day, 365/year for many years, with no breaks, no mistakes due to a lack of concentration or "human error", unemployment or disability insurances, etc...
FrankHerbert
0.7 / 5 (51) Aug 02, 2011
This is another example of the irreversible march of automation. Imagine a true "free market" system with no safety net in spite of ever-increasing systemic unemployment caused by automation.

A purely capitalist system cannot maintain stability without enough jobs. A large percentage of the population's basic needs will need to be provided for if the society is to prevent collapse. If their basic needs are not provided for, there will come a tipping point where the lower class will revolt and topple the society.

Hopefully in such a world where machines are capable of doing most/all jobs, the nature of work, jobs, employment, and wealth itself will have changed to reflect this. Instead of the helpless masses becoming essentially slaves to the oligarchs and the governments they control, hopefully technology will free people to achieve their potentials. Just as someone now is not required to farm/hunt/gather to survive, the future human may not (shouldn't) have to work in order to live.
Pkunk_
3 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2011
This scenario has been in the works for decades. I hope no one is surprised. Expect tremendous human suffering as we transform from a human-based to robot-based economy. Humans treat other humans worse than they treat their pets, so I don't expect that any safety net will be created for those displaced by automation.


That is the same argument used by the communists who were against computerization of any kind in Banks and other businesses because "people would lose jobs" . Instead and whole new industry was created around computers where a LOT of people are employed.

Even robots need humans to maintain them . They aren't going to fix themselves and they're too stupid to do anything other than what they are programmed for. In spite of all we heard from the commies against the Internet , computers and any form of progress , we humans are still doing very well by not giving a damn about their intellectual "advice" .

IngDutch
not rated yet Aug 02, 2011
14 on 500.000 employes last year. That's 7 per million per year, In the netherlands in 2009 we had 46 suicides per million subjects. Just to put the number of suicides in perspective.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2011
Even robots need humans to maintain them . They aren't going to fix themselves and they're too stupid to do anything other than what they are programmed for.
Eventually machines will make, service, and program other machines.

Innovation is increasing geometrically along with jobs lost. Attrition cannot compensate for this acceleration and the ranks of the permanently unemployed continue to grow.

A solution for jobs lost to automation: PAY machines directly for the work that they do and TAX them immediately. Robots can pay for their own storage, transport, maintenance, and recycling.

@VD you forgot a few:

Asian
http://www.youtub...I4nr4u3A
http://www.youtub...fY3GpTak

American
http://www.youtub...=related
http://www.youtub...=related
http://www.youtub...vxD5P63A
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2011
My mistake. American robots:
http://www.youtub...=related
http://www.youtub...=related

-Very effective against north korean variants-
FrankHerbert
0.8 / 5 (52) Aug 02, 2011
http://en.wikiped...robot%29

"Adam became the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators; Adam's research studied baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and is one of two robot scientists working at Aberystwyth University along with 'Eve', a robot currently doing research on drug screening."

Someday even Edison's and Tesla's achievements will be considered childish tinkering compared to what machines are able to do with their spare CPU cycles.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
Hmmm. Otto's American robots seem primarily oriented toward murdering people.

That isn't the case of the Asian robots, or the UK Genomics Robot linked to by Frank Herbert.

Best American Robot Video Ever.

http://www.metatu...on-fire/
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2011
Hmmm. Otto's American robots seem primarily oriented toward murdering people.
Is ok - it's not murder when you're killing the enemy. Hey did you see that Brit moghul land that military helicopter on that lake? On his honeymoon?? How romantic. Subjects eat that sort of thing up don't they?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2011
Best Canuck Robot Video. Ever.
http://www.youtub...a_player
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (1) Aug 03, 2011
We'll start questioning the competence of their programmers, of course
You should not talk about your mother that way!
jamesrm
5 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2011
"P.eople A.gainst T.he I.nanimate O.bjects."
http://www.youtub...YiM2vZuo
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2011
"Relevance?" - whomever

A comment on how Robots are used in America.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2011
Otto... You are so Jealous.
EWH
not rated yet Aug 06, 2011
This is just a pretext. The suicide rate is sure to only go up for those among the 500,000 workers who can't find another job.

Also, wasn't the reason for manufacturing over there the low labor rates? Now the cost of labor is not going to be more than a tiny fraction of what it was - maybe even less than the shipping. Does this mean that the factories are going to come back to the US?
Tangent2
1 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2011
14 on 500.000 employes last year. That's 7 per million per year, In the netherlands in 2009 we had 46 suicides per million subjects. Just to put the number of suicides in perspective.


Let's also keep in mind the original phrasing of the facts given:
"At least 14 workers have died in apparent suicides since last year.."

Since they are saying "At least", you can take that number 14 and pretty much double it. They also use the term "since last year" and don't say this is a full years period, so add another say 2-3 to the total since we don't know exactly how many months is being considered in the total. Now give that final number some serious consideration in light of the perspective offered by IngDutch.