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China Iphone Robotics Apple Technology

Will Your Next iPhone Be Built By Robots? 251

Posted by timothy
from the certainly-hope-so dept.
itwbennett writes "Foxconn has ambitious plans to deploy a million-robot army on its assembly lines. But while robots already perform some basic tasks, when it comes to the more delicate assembly work, humans still have the edge. George Zhang, senior principal scientist with ABB, a major vendor of industrial robots, thinks Foxconn will eventually replace human workers for much of its electronic assembly, but probably not in time for the iPhone 6. For now, humans are still a cheaper and more practical choice."
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Will Your Next iPhone Be Built By Robots?

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  • by cait56 (677299) * on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:03PM (#41553529) Homepage
    Android built iphones?
    • Anything would be better than iRobot.
    • For some reason, this reminds me of the "How is babby formed" meme.

      How is iphonn formed?
  • Robots in China? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:05PM (#41553547) Journal

    If the work is done by robots anyway, then what is the advantage of producing in China (except when producing for the Chinese market)? You don't have the advantage of cheap workers (robots don't get wages), but you have the disadvantage of higher transport cost.

    • by zlives (2009072)

      +1 insightful

    • by GodInHell (258915)
      Don't forget the social instability that will follow in China once you slam the doors of the factory closed.
    • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:18PM (#41553639)

      Supply chains, factory skills, skill workers, operators...

      Do you know how long it took China to build its industry? It took decades. It takes a lot to move big systems.

      Why is Ontario or Michigan still a huge player in the automotive game despite their high cost? There's a huge system there that is hard to move. Lots of suppliers, skilled people that know what they're doing...

      You will note it is FoxConn working on this. There's nothing of course stopping a Western country from working on it.... but do you know the first thing about assembling mobile phones? No... it takes knowledge. Knowledge that right now resides in China. They know all the tasks people need to do to assemble the smartphone and can then build and task robots to do it.

      And most likely it won't happen all at once. Maybe one part of the assembly gets automated. So that robot is placed in the FoxConn factory in China. A lot of parts suppliers are probably in China too (transport costs there as well). To move the automated factory to the west would cost a lot of time and money... is it worth the shipping costs? Believe it or not... shipping costs... even with todays gas prices are still quite low relative to the costs of everything else.

      I'll leave it to the companies to figure out the optimal cost... but it's just not obvious that you'd want to assemble locally for such small items.

      • Re:Robots in China? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by peragrin (659227) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:36PM (#41553771)

        many industries are moving manufacturing back to the states and Europe not because the Chinese can't do it cheaper but shipping has become so damn expensive.

        once robots are built to do that fine dexterity work it becomes feasible to build small factories in various countries around the world and only ship raw materials/bulk products around. why build USA's and Europe's demand in China when they could be built in Canada or Ireland for a fraction of the overall shipping costs. In the next 30 years I see that trend coming out. combined with advances in material sciences and 3D Printing/Robototic assembly. one massive factory will become franshise factories.

        If you want an idea. a restaurant only cooks and prepares food it doesn't grow/gather the raw materials.
        a franchise factory will build your item. to designer specs, and with possibly raw materials supplied by the designer.

        • by drkim (1559875)

          ...a franchise factory will build your item. to designer specs, and with possibly raw materials supplied by the designer.

          I believe this could be just a 3D printer.

          • by peragrin (659227)

            a 3D printer doesn't just do the electronics. and it doesn't assemble multiple components into one. at least yet.

        • ...and give them to robots

        • by sl149q (1537343)

          Unfortunately Canada is a union friendly country. Until we get right to work laws think southern US states where you are not required to join a union to work in a factory.

          You may or may not agree with unions on principle, but the fact remains that the jobs will migrate to where the cost of labor stays low and union demands are minimal. It is not a choice of a union or no union. Its a choice between unions and no jobs.

        • There are some arguments missing from your otherwise rather good observation.

          First, China's environmental laws are such that building a factory in western countries will cost quite some extra money, due to the pollution and CO2 compensation that will have to be dealt with. This will make it less interesting to build in the west, if you're in it for the money.

          Second, anything you build in China, will have all the technology of not just the product, but also the assembly copied. They will surely try to copy

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bennomatic (691188)

        ...is it worth the shipping costs? Believe it or not... shipping costs... even with todays gas prices are still quite low relative to the costs of everything else.

        If you believe that global temperature shifts are causing greater weather destabilization, then--regardless of gas prices--that could shift significantly. Shipping is cheap because, let's say you're sending phones--you can fit thousands of them into a container, probably more than 100,000 on a single ship, maybe more. But there's always a non-zero chance of losing that cargo, and if you suddenly can't make a trans-Pacific journey for six months out of the year because of constant hurricanes, production i

        • by sl149q (1537343)

          Apple drop ships their phones and pads from the factory to either a store or end user. Typically either UPS or Fed-Ex. And it ain't ground or by ship!

      • by sl149q (1537343)

        Its not like there are no robots or automated assemply processes in the current Foxconn factories.

        Its just that there is less than some people think there could or should or shouldn't be.

        Who will complain the most about this headline.

        Workers displaced by robots in Foxconn factories?

        or:

        Fewer workers being abused by Foxconn after robots being added?

        Over time fewer workers will produce more due to automation. Anyone doubting that is just being stupid. I

    • by bledri (1283728)
      Two things come to mind. The factories are already in place and possibly environmental considerations (or the ability to ignore environmental considerations.)
    • Re:Robots in China? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AcidPenguin9873 (911493) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:21PM (#41553665)

      Supply chain. The entire supply chain for electronics manufacturing currently exists almost completely in Southeast Asia and China. Not that it couldn't be moved, but you'd need a huge effort to move the whole set: raw materials like rare earths, silicon wafer processing, packaging, PCB manufacturing, case manufacturing, final assembly, etc. Instead of shipping the finished device to the US, you'd be shipping about 50 different components unless they were also available from the US.

      Now, hypothetically, if you could get all of the raw materials in the US (or I suppose shipped to the US, but China is increasingly refusing to ship raw materials these days), and get companies to set up robotic manufacturing facilities in the US, then yes, you could do the whole thing in the US.

      At that point, there aren't any jobs involved in the manufacture of that device, so why do we care where it's manufactured? If it's built completely by robots at every point in the supply chain, the only people making any money off of the device are the 1%er capitalists who own the factories, the people who designed the device, and the people who designed the robots (which also were presumably built by other robots). Most of that design work is still in the US. Oh and I suppose the people who own the land where the raw materials came from.

      If you can't tell, I'm getting at a completely post-labor society here, which is probably still quite a ways off, but not outside the realm of thinking.

      • At that point, there aren't any jobs involved in the manufacture of that device, so why do we care where it's manufactured?

        Someone will need to maintain and retool the robots. A fair portion of today's heavy manufacturing jobs go to the fixers.

        • by DM9290 (797337)

          A fair portion of today's heavy manufacturing jobs go to the fixers.

          Actually a fair portion of todays heavy manufacturing jobs go to the robots. The "fixers" are merely replacement for the company doctors that have been fired when the human workforce was made redundant.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        If you can't tell, I'm getting at a completely post-labor society here, which is probably still quite a ways off, but not outside the realm of thinking.

        Not as long as people want to be serviced by other people, until people want to stick their head into a hair cutting machine and have beer served by a robot we'll still need hair dressers and waiters so we can't all be these "post-labor" people. What may happen though is that the value of labor relative to the value of money diminishes, we're still offering services to each other but the 1%ers become ridiculously rich. They can have whatever products or services they want from us and it costs them "nothing"

      • by sl149q (1537343)

        Most of the "raw materials" for something like an iPhone come from outside of China anyway. Foxconn is not making things up out of raw materials. They take chips and boards and batteries and glass and assemble it. The rest of the stuff is manufactured across the world by specialist factories.

    • by alen (225700) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:25PM (#41553689)

      No one wants toxic waste dumped here in the USA

    • Good question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TopSpin (753) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:29PM (#41553729) Journal

      Your specific question (if robots, why China?) was answered directly a few years ago by Terry Gou, Chairman of Foxconn. According to Terry, the US has "too many lawyers." Linky here [businessweek.com].

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Its simple, China charges tariffs on goods made outside of China while the US does not (or at least not enough of ones to make a difference). So if Apple wants to sell in China, which is the fastest growing economy right now, then they save money by making stuff there.
    • And robots in the Netherlands to build the same shavers. [nytimes.com]
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      If robots are doing the work, once you figure in the shipping lag, the cost of shipping materials to there, the cost of shipping the finished product back here, the socio-economic ramifications of building in one market for purchase in another, it makes far more sense to undertake the cost of building a factory in the target market.
    • China will peg their currency at such a value that results in 99% industrial utilization.

      Until they automate their factories they had to worry that wages would rise too fast. If they can automate then things will be peachy for all the sons of central committee members.

      Of course that assumes that the peg holds. Burning out the presses for both the Euro and the Dollar is a natural and sort of aggressive reaction to the peg. Then again the peg is basically aggressive in it's nature.

  • Is labor dying? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:09PM (#41553567) Homepage

    Seems more and more jobs are being replaced by technology. What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

    • What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

      People who flip burgers start to get nervous. [marshallbrain.com]

    • Ask the Luddites.

    • Not a new problem.

      Every time you improve the efficiency of production, you cut the amount of human labor needed.
      Think factory vs a bunch of artisan shops. Or a big agriculure machine vs hundreds of small farmers.

      So far, every time we reduced the human labor in one sector, we invented another sector which required a new set of human work.
      Or did you think you could have iPhones using the middle ages efficiencies?

      Let's just hope we can keep up with the trend.

      • by DM9290 (797337)

        So far, every time we reduced the human labor in one sector, we invented another sector which required a new set of human work.

        Let's just hope we can keep up with the trend.

        "hoping" for something is just about the stupidest way to accomplish it. but I guess that's the plan then.

      • by grumbel (592662)

        So far, every time we reduced the human labor in one sector, we invented another sector which required a new set of human work.

        The problem is that once you have flexible robots, that newly invented sector will use robots right from the start, not human labor.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:28PM (#41553719)
      Presumably those of us who still have jobs (or are comfortably retired) will solve the problem by calling the others lazy and entitled and cutting jobs programs while passing laws that say they must get jobs. Then to address the rising costs of government support for the unemployed we will cut taxes. Problem solved!
      • by rmstar (114746)

        Presumably those of us who still have jobs (or are comfortably retired) will solve the problem by calling the others lazy and entitled and cutting jobs programs while passing laws that say they must get jobs. Then to address the rising costs of government support for the unemployed we will cut taxes. Problem solved!

        Nah, that will never work. The people are way to smart to let you get away with that </sarcasm>.

    • Re:Is labor dying? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by javilon (99157) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:37PM (#41553783) Homepage

      I have thought a lot about this lately. In a very short time during this decade, we will see most of this factory work automated (e.g. Foxconn), then we will see road transportation automated (e.g. google cars) and farm work automated. I don't think there is time for the economy to generate jobs for the growing unemployed part of the population. We are told that western jobs are moving to the east, but this is only a part of the story. Globally, jobs are being lost (Unemployment has risen globally to 210 million, or 30 million jobs lost since 2007 according to the IMF).

      But this is only the current round of automation. If the singularity is near, and I believe it is, probably around 2035 as per Kurszweil's extrapolations of current trends, by the 2020's the value of human work will tend quickly to zero.

      So it is clear to me that:

      1) We should stop taxation of work, asap. Instead we need to tax corporate profits. Google, Microsoft and most of the big corporations pay close to zero taxes. That is unacceptable. For two companies with the same income, the one employing most people pays the more taxes. Also, people is taxed on their job income at a higher rate than its investment profits.

      2) Society needs to come to terms with the fact that most people will not be able to work. World citizens need to have their basic needs covered. Then if they manage to work, they can have extra income. Most people I know would work just to be occupied in something useful.

      Right now, the world is going the wrong direction. Income inequality is at its highest for the last decades all around the world. Economic output is going down and middle class standard of life is going down. What happened in Spain and Greece will soon happen in France, US and other western countries. The sooner the elites realize that they need consumers, the sooner we can change the system so we produce what people needs to survive and we can all move to the next level.

      The alternative is for the elites (and this means 1% of the population, so most of us smartass IT people won't be there) to transcend and the rest of the world to be left in the dust fighting to survive miserable lives. I may be too optimistic, but I don't think that is what the elites want.

       

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There is a lot of work that I would like done. Some quick examples:

        1. My lawn needs mowed.
        2. My house could use a good cleaning.
        3. The common cold needs cured.
        4. Full genome mapping for every individual.
        5. Invent a substance capable of providing the cable for a space elevator.
        6. Build a moon base.

        Some of that could use automated labor as well. However, these are all areas where more labor could be devoted. The big challenge is that most of that needs higher education in a technical field.

        In 1900, 9

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          1. They've had robotic lawn mowers for at least a decade now.
          2. Roomba
          3. No, it doesn't need to be cured. If some rich people can make lots of money on it, it'll get done, but if not, it won't.
          4. What's the economic incentive here?
          5. economic incentive?
          6. economic incentive?

          Sure, those big projects could employ lots of people and improve the economy overall, but they need big investment, from a government or group of governments. With the current trend of government being sold out to the 1%ers who only wi

      • Society needs to come to terms with the fact that most people will not be able to work.

        Exactly. The next revolution will be one of automation.

        We're already seeing some evidence of this, but the majority still cling to old industrail principles and an outdated ethic that work is somehow "moral" and the fault of unemployment is with the individual and not the society or economic system of the place they live. They don't understand that there is simply not enough work for everyone.

        Don't believe me? Look at the net. Could you imagine how many workers say, Amazon, would need if it was done over th

      • Expanding on your great points: http://www.pdfernhout.net/beyond-a-jobless-recovery-knol.html [pdfernhout.net]
        "This article explores the issue of a "Jobless Recovery" mainly from a heterodox economic perspective. It emphasizes the implications of ideas by Marshall Brain and others that improvements in robotics, automation, design, and voluntary social networks are fundamentally changing the structure of the economic landscape. It outlines towards the end four major alternatives to mainstream economic practice (a basic incom

    • You end up with revolts shortly followed by a revolution. When you end up with a society predominantly made up of "haves" and have nots" (no middle class), that's when it gets ugly.

      People need to be busy working and producing. But more importantly, they must not be under societal stress that pushes them to a breaking point based on desperation.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The global socialist revolution.

    • It's not quite as simple as technology meaning fewer jobs. There are a lot of jobs out there which could be automated but aren't. Why? Because labor is cheap.

      This even holds in the US, although you can see technology chipping away. For example, a robot to scan and bag groceries wouldn't be too complicated -- most of the setup is already automated with a conveyor belt, barcode scanner, automatic change dispenser, etc. However, it hasn't been completely automated because paying someone minimum wage to put you

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        For example, a robot to scan and bag groceries wouldn't be too complicated [...] However, it hasn't been completely automated because paying someone minimum wage to put your groceries in a bag is still cheaper than a robot.

        Around here it has -- they figured out that you didn't even need a robot, you can just get the customer to do all of those things himself. It's genius, I tell you!

        • by sl149q (1537343)

          I'll take an automated checkout any day. Almost always faster and less fuss. Gets me out of the store.

          In short, I tend to shop at super markets that have them. Simply to save time.

    • It's ok, Youtube will need people to manually screen videos for copyright violations.
    • Seems more and more jobs are being replaced by technology. What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

      You give the robots an allowance.

    • Seems more and more jobs are being replaced by technology.

      This has already happened [wikipedia.org], starting about 10000 years ago. It happened again [wikipedia.org] a couple centuries ago.

      What happens as the population grows but jobs dissapear?

      Since this is a continuation of a 10000 year old process, there is sufficient data to predict that plenty of new jobs will replace the old jobs and standards of living will continue to increase.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Many suggestions have been suggested including implementing the basic income to provide a decent living and drive up the scarcity of labor until we reach a balance.

      The other answer will be the 1% backed GOP plan involving cake eating. Shortly thereafter, there will be a huge civil war ending with the 1%ers roasting over an open fire.

      That's not to say it will be the Democrats who implement the former. They'll 'try real hard' but will be unable to overcome the two remaining GOP representatives in Congress in

    • Although it's still far from being completely extinct. Someone still has to design the iPhones and to design and build the robots. But more and more of that, too, will become automated, even in countries where labour is cheap, because technological progress will at some point in time make automation even cheaper.

      What will happen? Instead of enabling people to enjoy more free time at decent living standards, more and more people will become jobless and thereby poor. Oh, and, by the way, because economic valu

    • by sl149q (1537343)

      I simply don't know.

      But obviously something. For example the vast majority of people who worked on farms 100 years ago are simply no longer needed there. Something like 50% of the population was needed to produce the food we eat back then. So one would assume that if the unemployment rate is less than 50% then something else must have popped up to for those people to do.

      Ditto for most any manufacturing job that was done in the middle of the last century. E.g. the number of people required to build a car in

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      Look no further then slavery in Roman empire.
  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:16PM (#41553619)

    What we really need to worry about are robots building robots. That's when they finally don't need us any more and can rise up as our oppressors. That's the beginning of the end, man. The beginning of the end.

    • by DM9290 (797337)

      What we really need to worry about are robots building robots. That's when they finally don't need us any more and can rise up as our oppressors. That's the beginning of the end, man. The beginning of the end.

      The end will come before that. When the majority of population can no longer perform as cost effectively as machines. This is sufficient to cause the entire economy to collapse.

      It makes little difference if 100% of the human race is less cost effective than robots, or merely 50%.

      We might already be at that point if only the price of the most capable robots and computers came down sightly. With perhaps another decade or 2 of software development.

  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:24PM (#41553677)

    Now Apple is going to put Chinese workers out of a job. I can see it in 20 years, the CEO and CTO the only ones raking in the money, in their automated office with roomba's (made in Poland) cleaning up the office after hours and their Google driverless cars taking them home, to their Toyota robot butler opening the door...

    • by sl149q (1537343)

      I'm waiting to see the riot when the two groups of agitators meet in front of Foxconn. One group complaining about Foxconn overworking its employees. The other group complaining that Foxconn is underworking (aka laying off) their employees. News at 11:00 brought to you by the Western World 24 hour news channels...

  • Robotic people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:27PM (#41553715)

    "For now, humans are still a cheaper and more practical choice."

    That's been the argument about labor since the dark ages. Slavery was cheaper than horses. The pyramids were built by people dragging slabs up the sides using ropes and pulleys; Even though it's almost a certainty that the Egyptians knew of more advanced engineering. They also buried the slaves (alive) with the king when he died. The question has never been whether humans are cheaper than machines: The larger the size of the labor pool, the lower the cost of labor. Supply and demand; Basic economics.

    The question has been how workers are treated, and what level of servitude a society is willing to accept for some, or all, of its members. Even by the laws of the United States, what China routinely allows with its workforce is inhumane. I say this with the full knowledge that my country has some of the worst labor laws in the first world -- the fewest number of vacation days, the spread between what the head of a company is paid and its entry-level workers the highest of any country on Earth, and a grossly underfunded federal workforce safety department.

    We shouldn't be doing business with them; They don't even have child labor laws worth a damn. But they have a lot of our money and they're cheap. For many countries, that's enough. I wish it weren't -- where are the europeans' "citizens of the world" speeches when they really matter? You're just as guilty as we are, that's why. Until human rights are something afforded to our enemies, as well as our friends, then we should be honest with ourselves: Nobody really has human rights. What we have... are privileges. And we live our lives in comfort because a significant portion of the world doesn't, and we aren't willing to help them get them.

    • Truth hurts. Thank you for making me hate myself.

      • Truth hurts. Thank you for making me hate myself.

        Negative emotions can lead to positive results. Becoming angry at an injustice provides an impetus for challenging it. Don't be upset if you're "hating yourself", be upset only if you were apathetic after reading it. The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

    • Except the pyramids werent built by slaves at all. They were built by labor forces probably consisting of farmers that were looking for more money during the dry seasons. They were also provided stellar health care for the time being, something which slaves are not.
    • by khallow (566160)

      The pyramids were built by people dragging slabs up the sides using ropes and pulleys; Even though it's almost a certainty that the Egyptians knew of more advanced engineering.

      What more advanced engineering? Rope and pulleys is pretty advanced for Egypt. And what does this have to do with the horse versus slave claim? The world didn't have good work horses at the time of Egypt. Those were bred later. And when good workhorses (and other beasts of burden) did appear, they replaced a lot of human labor. But slavery didn't go away, not because human slaves were somehow cheaper than horses, which frankly, they aren't, but because humans could do things that horses couldn't. Such as pi

      • What more advanced engineering? Rope and pulleys is pretty advanced for Egypt. And what does this have to do with the horse versus slave claim? The world didn't have good work horses at the time of Egypt.

        Horses were first domesticated around 4000 BC, and were considered to be widely domesticated by 3000 BC. Camels, which were much more suited to desert work, were first domesticated during the same time period, although there is evidence that domestication of camels may have occurred even earlier. The first Egyptian pyramids were made around 2630 BC. That's about 1,600 years later for either horses or camels.

        Since your entire argument is based on that fact, it's Myth Busted for you. Let's see how your other

      • by sl149q (1537343)

        Please people. Use google. Search "pyramids slaves"

        It is well documented that the Egyptian pyramids where NOT built by slaves.

  • ... they can remove the nets from their factories/dorms.
  • by pubwvj (1045960) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:39PM (#41553789)

    Hmm... those rioting workers should have been more grateful for their jobs. The sly fox has a solution to worker unrest. The current version of robots do not strike or riot.

  • don't care (Score:5, Funny)

    by badford (874035) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:45PM (#41553827)
    robots would be cool, i suppose. I am reading this on my iphone 5 that I stood in line 23 hours to get. I got it at the Apple store. It is made by Geniuses (Genuii?) Everybody asks me about my thin new phone. It is thin and light and had a bigger screen than the crappy old iPhone 4s. sure the maps could use a little work and the lightning power cord costs crazy money but hey, I 'm hip and people adore me because I have an iPhone5 I'm sure the people who made it are well treated and probably just like me: 30 something, stylish, hip and know their way around a wine shop.
    • I'm sure the people who made it are well treated and probably just like me: 30 something, stylish, hip and know their way around a wine shop.

      It brings an almost orgasmic pleasure to me to think of all you hipsters slaving away on an assembly line, the acrid smell of solder and flux heavy in the sweltering heat, listening to obscure hipster music playing in the background, smiling while their coworkers pass out next to you from exhaustion, so deluded they think they're actually living the good life.

      But then I realize that it's people like you that are the reason teenagers and young adults are pissing away their lives for pennies an hour, living

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @06:48PM (#41553863) Homepage

    It surprised me how much labor goes into iPhone manufacture at Foxconn. Cell phone assembly was automated years ago by Motorola, Nokia, and Sony. The iPhone form factor doesn't change much from year to year, and the volume per model is high. That's the ideal case for automation. Only very low salaries make it possible to do the job cost-effectively with humans.

    • by sl149q (1537343)

      Except that for China Foxconn pays relatively high wages.

      They use people because it allows them more flexibility in changing their production lines to adapt to their customers (Apple, Samsung et al) and higher quality where needed.

      That said they will move to robots where possible when possible where it saves money, time or improves quality.

  • Oh shiz! Foxconn worker riots were bad enough. Can you imagine an army of factory robots rising up against their masters? Apple would usher in the robot apocalypse. Android - The iPhone Killer
  • by kroyd (29866) on Thursday October 04, 2012 @07:37PM (#41554181)
    .. and the robots will be be located in Taiwan, at least for now: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57318260-1/foxconn-to-build-taiwan-robot-kingdom/ [cnet.com]

    Sure, it is possible that they will start building mainly robot based factories in mainland Chinal, but why bother? In its purest form a robot factory would just take raw materials and energy as input, with product as output. You want to place a factory like that in a location with a really stable energy supply, good infrastructure, and a stable political situation. Staff costs wouldn't be such a big issue, since you wouldn't have too many staff anyway. So, why choose China, where you would have to deal wiith rampant corruption, bad infrastructure and millions of starving former factory workers?

    Personally I would put the factories in Japan, northern Europe and Canada, that way they would be closer to the consumers as well. It would certainly save a fortune in security!

  • one of these stories comes up. So I'll ask this time too. What are we suppose to do with all these people we don't need anymore? We can't just give them food, housing and healthcare if they don't work for it. That's Socialism, bordering on Communism (yes, I know ones a subset of the other. I'm trolling here, give me a break).

    And yeah, I'm Trolling. But I'm trolling out of deep fear and frustration. I'm not one of the 'haves'. My Dad not only didn't give me shit, he's blowing anything that would resemble
    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      You may have noticed that cost of most foods is highly sensitive to the cost of fuel, ergo the food itself is worth very little due to high levels of efficiency.

      All those big agricultural companies control their own distribution networks because the value they create and bank is mostly in the moving of the food to where it gets processed, and then to where it gets sold. Its like that guy giving away "free" learn-to-use-a-computer dvd's ... just pay $4.95 shipping and handling. The dvd itself, like food, i
  • Do you think the iPhone will keep being the phone everyone wants for long? The iPhone is currently at the very top of its popularity curve, still up thanks to the inertia of the original devices design/ergonomics coming from the late Jobs era. Cook performs incremental updates (4S, 5, ipad 3, or soon some reduced devices) to maintain the ghost alive - for how long?

    In two years from now the "next iPhone" will draw much less attention.
  • impossible.

  • They are about to get a null labor cost, and of course they will still try to avoid paying taxes. If we follow that path, nobody will be able to purchase the produced goods, which means the market will disappear. Will capitalism collapse because of its own victory over workers?
  • ABB, while being one of the biggest automation suppliers in the world, still manages to makes some of the unreliable automation products.

    The ABB robots at the Chrysler factory in Belvedere, IL are notorious for overheating and shutting down even in mild summer temperatures, leaving dozens of workers just standing around for hours waiting for a robot to be fixed (which usually fixed itself once the control cabinet cooled off) before the line could be restarted

  • by PPH (736903)
    This will all end in tears. I just know it.

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

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