Foxconn to Replace Workers With Robots in the Next 3 Years

By , Aug 1, 2011

If you would have asked the world 40 years ago what 2012 would be like, a lot of folks would have probably said that we’d be driving vehicles that didn’t touch the ground and there’d be tons of robots.

While flying-cars still appear to be a long ways away from materializing, the latter prediction may not be too far off. Apple’s go to parts manufacturing firm Foxconn is reportedly about to add 1 million robots to the population…

9to5Mac is reporting that the component-making company is planning to replace an unspecified amount of workers with one million robots over the next 3 years. Foxconn is not only responsible for building Apple products, but also works with Sony, Nokia, and many others.

The mechanical replacements will be used for basic tasks like spraying, welding, and assembling components. They’re expected to help the manufacturer keep up with the rising demands of their high-profile clients. You know, because robots don’t need lunch breaks or sleep.

Foxconn has been in and out of the headlines for the past few years thanks to a string of worker-suicides and countless reports of poor working conditions. I wonder if they’ll make the new robots sign a “no suicide” waver too.

All jokes aside, the move to a robotic workforce does spell out trouble for Chinese citizens. Foxconn currently employs 1.2 million workers, so bringing on a million robots would assumedly lead to massive layoffs.

What do you think of a company deploying a million robots? Scary?

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  • Dane

    I had some really good suicide jokes when I saw the headline but you mentioned it in the article so they lose their humor.

    It is will foxconn will always be known for

  • Damian

    Robots do need planned maintenance (sleep) and when they break down (when, not if), you need highly skilled technicians to diagnose and repair.

    • Jon Garrett

      why hire robots in the first place? is $3 hr and no benefits too much?

      • Deallealomo

        That’ll be 3million dollars a hour!

  • Andrew

    I was saying this back when all the headlines were hitting complaining about working conditions. I was wondering if they would be happier to have a job with a crappy working environment, or to be out of a job and replaced by a robot. I’m not *for* crappy working conditions by any means, but the jobs sounded generous/inefficient as it was, considering that they could almost all be easily replaced by robots. It was only a matter of time. They had to know that the more they complained, the faster they would be replaced, right? Wonder if they are happier now?

    • dabe

      I wish you could work in those factories for a month. You would learn to empathize and actually understand others situations. Working for slave wages is *generous* lol wow you really have no understanding of how the world works.

      • Andrew

        Saying I have no understanding of how the world works is funny, because it seems I’m the one who does, and you’re the one who does not. I’m the one being a realist in our world, you’re the one living in a fantasy world where everyone is treated fairly and has a good job with great working conditions and a fair wage.

        I never said the conditions are easy or that I condone them. They are terrible and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. Unfortunately, not everyone shares that belief in the “real” world. By generous I meant that as bad and harsh as it sounds, those workers are lucky to have *any* job, even if it’s a really shitty, horrible one. Do I think that’s right? No. But they’ve been doing a robot’s job for years now, and it was only a matter of time before it came to this. Causing too much trouble, by RIGHTFULLY (IMO) complaining about the conditions, they’ve now put themselves out of a job maybe sooner than it would have been, and I have to wonder, for them, and their majority opinion, which is worse? Not being able to eat and support your family? Or suffering through grueling conditions to eat and barely support your family? Two terrible fates, but I don’t know which is worse, and I’m not in their position and couldn’t even venture a real guess. The sad truth is that they are/were in a lose-lose situation.

  • Saleh

    then robots wont be able to leak new idevice designs ):

  • Bomber

    A generation ago pictures like that were with sewing machines. Nobody’s talking either

  • goofygreek

    if there’s a will there’s a way. maybe someone will hack a robot to take pictures when other robots aren’t looking.

  • STK10

    Robots in a factory, now theres some news *rollllllllsssss eeeyyyyyeeeeesssss*

  • JoBerlin

    Considering the growing demand the layoff might be not that big. And 1 robot < 1 worker; keep in mind that a real person can do multiple tasks and learns new tasks quickly: eg. switching to another device. Producing a new phone could mean that the whole production has to be restructured and rearranged.
    Time will tell …

    • AgentSmith

      Yeah, but reprogramming robots probably isn’t that hard. In fact, it’s not, a few subtle software changes. For a machine to build a robot it would have to pretty dextrous and chances are, that won’t change and I don’t see it changing enough to warrant completely new equipment each time a new piece of hardware needs to be produced.