101 responses

  1. anthrobotic
    November 12, 2012

    And then there’s also the issue of “Hey China, robots are coming to get your economy.” So is China Hosed? It breaks down like this right here: Punch #1: a move to robotic labor; Punch #2: China realizes they have very limited product-related intellectual capital; Punch #3 & Kick to the Junk: The developed world gets their own manufacture-bots (along with 3D printers), and saves a bundle on shipping & handling. “Hello, China! Welcome to Capitalism. Ummm, You Might Not Like the Next Part…” http://goo.gl/nOH8r

    • Finno
      November 14, 2012

      You forget that not only is China a manufacturing base but it’s also a market. A very big market that US companies are clamouring over themselves to get a piece of. Once manufacturing is completely automated it will be moved either near the market or near the raw materials.
      There’s also other considerations such as he who has the best robots wins(like varying costs of labor you will see varying costs of robotics and efficiencies). Who makes these robots? The Taiwanese?

  2. Sly
    November 12, 2012

    So maybe now it’s time to stop the “working for money” era !
    And give evry body enought money to live, and they can work if they like it.
    The only probleme is, take the power out of the hands of the wealthies and give it back to the people.

    • Sven
      November 13, 2012

      It’s true what you say. The only solution for this automation “dilemma”, which is not a real dilemma, since not having to work as much is a good thing (more time for education, living, having fun, etc..), is to introduce some form of basic income for everyone. This income should be the same for everyone regardless of their social situation. That way, we could get rid of the monstrous buerocratic and in itself expensive social welfare administration (nix child support, retirement, social security, joblessness insurance, etc..).
      The money for those payments would have to be raised through taxes on the other hand. However, these taxes should not be income taxes, since the number of people who work will decrease more and more. Instead, we should raise taxes on consumption only, such as VAT/sales taxes on all products. That way, comanies would have to pay these taxes exactly where the products are bought (and not on the Cayman’s where the company’s headquarters happen to be).
      Of course, for most of the people, things wouldn’t change much, since they probably would keep working anyway to keep the salary (on top of the basic income). What would change though is that cheap labourers would not be as prone to abuse anymore and companies would be required to create fulfilling jobs that people like doing (or pay them more in return).

      • Aaron Cole
        November 13, 2012

        I support the idea of a guaranteed basic income. Now, how do we convince the “they voted to get free stuff” crowed that it’s pretty much our only hope for survival as a society?

        I really don’t want to wait around for our unemployment to go into the twenties or thirties while still being forced to pay for basic necessities.

    • triforcelink
      January 8, 2013

      I like where this is going, however, don’t pin yourself against the ‘wealthiest’ as they’re the ones that are the most likely to get the ball rolling.

  3. Mark Panszky
    November 13, 2012

    Foxconn is not Chinese. It is Taiwanese.

  4. turtles_allthewaydown
    November 13, 2012

    These robots are internally designed and produced. How many people does it take to design the robots?
    As it says, most of these are tedious jobs, but if they can be replaced by robots, then why have the factory in China? Perhaps we can start moving factories back to the U.S. with however many jobs it has.
    (I’m thinking the next 10 years, you guys are thinking about 30-40 years from now).

    • anthrobotic
      November 13, 2012

      Turtles, that’s exactly what I’m saying, yo – combine that with 3D printing, and Japan slides back into that #2 Economy in the World slot straight away.

    • abdussamad
      September 23, 2013

      Because the workers you do hire are cheaper in China, raw materials cost less, electricity is cheaper (although that might change because of fracking), sourcing parts is easier and faster because you have an entire eco system of parts manufacturers nearby and there is a ready market of 1.4 billion consumers that you can also serve if exports don’t work out! Finally for a lot of industries the US does not have any manufacturers at all. The only manufacturers are Chinese or from other South East Asian countries. Naturally these businesses are more comfortable working in their own backyard.

    • Ralph Gardner
      April 8, 2014
  5. Richard Morgan
    November 13, 2012

    Finally the world we were promised, where robots do all the work and we humans can sit back and live a life of luxury.

  6. Orean Keels Jr.
    November 13, 2012

    The author seems to (strangely) think that it will take 1 million robots to replace 1 million workers, or that Gou’s statement inferred such. That would, simply, be stupid. One manufacturing robot has the potential to replace many, many workers because they work exponentially faster and at nearly 100% efficiency. I don’t see that the installation of 10,000 robots is off track to replace 1 million workers in any respect. In fact, if they are installing 20,000 more, the number of workers might go well over 1 million.

  7. Elmoamf Paglia
    November 14, 2012

    What a bitterness… The hypocrisy of the human being

  8. lezah
    November 14, 2012

    I am fascinated with robotics. Question:
    Can robots reproduce themselves? lezah

  9. Jesus_Is_Fiction
    November 14, 2012

    Having robots perform all of these tedious manual labor tasks is something that is decades overdue.

  10. Michael Russell
    November 14, 2012

    So, I just got a job making 1,000,000 robots. Pays well.

    • David J. Hill
      November 28, 2012

      that logic is sound, actually.

      won’t work for everyone, won’t work in the long run, but for now, a niche is a niche.

  11. Paul Eichhorn
    November 18, 2012

    One of the reasons I haven’t inveighed even heavier against exporting our jobs overseas was because I’d recognized that the crappy capitalist meme of zeroing out of our labor costs merely prefigures the age of robotics. I didn’t want to give the bad guys any more ideas.

    So. The worm has turned. A revolution will be required to secure for everyone having a purposeful, humane job paying a living wage as a basic human right. Anything less is the work of the Devil.

  12. Robert Schreib
    November 18, 2012

    ?? America is still unable to cope with the millions of jobs lost to China economically. What’s going to happen to all of these Chinese workers when they lose their jobs to robots? If the middle class isn’t making any money due to not having ANY jobs, how do they expect them to be able to afford to buy all these cutting edge electronic products?

  13. Tesla Berry
    November 27, 2012

    you see the real story here is about cheap SKILLED labor. why cannot america make giant factories with robots doing this work. it couldn’t afford the engineering talent, which china has developed over the past 20 years in droves.

    the average cost of a well paid engineer in china is probably a fraction of that in the usa. an engineer capable of putting together robotic arms liek that in house in the u.s. is, even in these difficult times, at least 80k. quite possibly a lot more for the team leaders.

    it’s gonna take 100 engineers to put together 10,000 robots + lots of laborers to help them.
    i’m sure someone has a spread sheet on the cost of salaries for everyone. i’m sure if you saw that spread sheet, you’d understand why i am writing the story is about the cost of cheap talented labor.

    it’s not about robots. automation of this sort has been routine for a long time.

    and remember these same armies of engineers are going to start building drones, missiles, tanks and sophisticated radars sooner than later. the military buildup is already beginning.

  14. Kevin Larson
    February 13, 2013

    This article is complete hogwash. Do the frickin math before you write this garbage David. The average worker at Foxcon makes $3500/yr. There is no way on earth to make a robot to assemble an Ipad for $11000. Equally as stupid as Jason’s article http://singularityhub.com/2013/02/07/us-unemployment-is-7-9-are-robots-to-blame/
    implying that robots are responsible for the US unemployment rate. You people need to get a job in the industry so you understand where the technology is at. There are no robots yet. There are expensive toys like ASIMO that are smoke and mirrors, really more like an extremely expensive RC puppet than anything else. Robots have replaced workers on the autoplant line doing some very specialized jobs like welding and painting, but hands still assemble the things. There are nearly as many workers behind the robots now as there were replaced by them. Programmers, lots of them, mechanics, inspectors, robot builders, testers, assemblers….There are more robots laying around big companies that cost a fortune and never were able to do what they were promising, than there are working on anything.

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