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back to article iPad maker to replace 1 million staff with robots

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 …

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Facepalm

Nice

Our work force are suicidal, what shall we do?

Sack them all, that'll cheer them up.

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Not all will be sacked ....

for how can any business manage without HR ( now to be renamed Robot Resources) ?

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Coat

Re: Not all will be sacked

If they're anything like some companies they'll soon be affectionately referred to as Robot Remains.

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Alert

slip of the tongue?

"the firm currently has 10,000 robots working on the production line."

10,000 now?

Now that says something about how they treat their staff!

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Childcatcher

No slip of the tongue,

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.

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Boffin

etymology <> meaning

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.

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Stop

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.

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WTF?

WTF?

Bankrupt them?

You DO know how much PROFIT they make?

Hint, £Billions.....

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Unhappy

Re: But why is the rum gone?

Just goes to show how quickly outsourcing to poor people has now switched to outsourcing to no people. This was supposed to be the bright new future of the 50's, all that leisure time to spend in misery!

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Anonymous Coward

I predict robots failure...

... 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?

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Crikey

Time to learn how to design, build or maintain robots. Though presumably robots do all that now.

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Go

The industrial revolution

all over again. I'm guessing there won't be much in the way of severance pay.

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Terminator

severance snape

Those requesting severance will be escorted to the rooftop "Executive Office".

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Indeed

Only it's taken China about 40 years to do what the 'leading edge' of the industrial revolution did in, what, 200 years?

Hope they have big Jobcentres.

I for one welcome our not-very-far-in-the-future-if-not-in-fact-already overlords.

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FAIL

a

Well yeah but it's not like they started from scratch is it...

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Pint

waiting

for Del Spooner to arrive to vet the robots.

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Terminator

Hmmm.

If Stevie J. finds out that this is actually cost effective he will bring production back into the fold at Cupertino... Robots don't leak prototypes, see?

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Silver badge

In future news....

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.

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Devil

The managing director was scrapped?

How much was he worth? Did he contain lots of copper and aluminium?

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Meh

Same job, different day

In other news, Foxconn will be hiring for 1 million employees to build the robots that will build the computer equipment.

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WTF?

1 Worker != 1 Robot

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.

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Mushroom

numbers

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.

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Flame

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

How long will it be before someone realises that if all "efficiency savings" are actually made then there won't be anyone left in a job to earn the cash to buy their products?

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Coat

Utopia

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.

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Coat

Re Utopia

> Ultimately the people will be paid by the country not to work.

Erm, well, we have that in the UK already... :-£

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M7S
Bronze badge

I remember the future well

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.

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indeed

economically China has been well behind the west for some time.

Their industrial revolution is coming which may actually benefit the rest of the world because it may not be financially viable to go to China, and maybe more cost effective to hire local talent.

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Stop

economically China has been well behind the west for some time.

Pop quiz.

Which country is massively in debt to which other.

Is it

a) The USofA to China

b) China to the USofA

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Bronze badge

Re: the future, I remember it well.

They did promise leisure time didn't they. However I have no recollection of promises of food, clothing, shelter, etc.

The future is so bright, it's blinding.

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Go

Does this include Jeremy Kyle?

That is to say, will Jeremy Kyle be going to China as well? I'm sure we could have a whip-round, should be able to raise the money for a one way first class ticket in no time at all.

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Will they be like Marvin?

Given the harsh conditions in the plants the robots I imagine that either (1) The robots will become so depressed they die or (2) They overthrow their human evil masters and take over the planet.

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Heh...

I was thinking pretty much the same thing...

The whole plant comes to a standstill and the last thing heard was...

"I have a terrible pain down all the diodes on my left side" :)

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Joke

Re: Will they be like Marvin?

Or park cars for 20 million years. After that they go into a bit of a decline.

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Meh

It is not 1st April?

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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Anonymous Coward

Who will buy the products?

...err the America's, Europe, Japan, Korea, in fact pretty much the same market as now.

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Headmaster

The America's what?

Oh I see what you did there. The America's Europe.

But I don't think that Japan and Korea belong to them.

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Robots will build other robots

Re: "conservatively each robot will take at least 1 person month to design, build, install commission and handover"

No, these robots will be built by other robots.

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Coat

Reminds me of NTNON.

Designed by lasers...

...built by robots...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNPTlT8HXjk

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Windows

"iPad maker to replace 1 million staff with robots"

Perfect, now all the Cupertino Posse need to do is replace all their customers with.........oh ok, I won't go there - the cognoscenti will get all of a mother.

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Terminator

Networked

So long as they remember not to network them. Because you know what happens next.

<

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Terminator

@Adam T Perhaps we should remind their customers that they have...........

...............no fate but that which they make themselves - for good or ill.

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Terminator

SKYNET, anyone?

so THAT'S where Skynet was spawned!!! Damn you Foxconn, i had my money on Japan!!!

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Mushroom

Skynet already exists

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_%28satellite%29

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Joke

SKYNET

SKY (dot) NET, the unholy child of SKYpe and Microsoft

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Terminator

This is were the robots will arise

I for one.....

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Happy

Bring it in house Apple.

If robots can do this don't know why Apple does not do it 'in house'...

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Unhappy

Perhaps...

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.

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Headmaster

They did already

The origianl Mac was built in an automated factory.

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Thumb Up

It'll only push the price up

All those rare earths being used to make robots that make gadgets

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If you can do this in China...

...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?

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