Taiwan’s own Foxconn, famous for producing Apple products such as the iPad and equally infamous for its unfortunate spate of suicides, recently revealed their plans to replace some of their workforce with 1 million robots over the next three years.
The robots will be charged with tasks such as assembling, welding, and other simple assembly line work.
The news came direct from founder and CEO Terry Gou during a speech at a
staff event dance party last Friday.
It seems that Foxconn has had an epiphany and realized that rather than spend billions on pay increases and strange parties/pep rallies, investing whole hog in hundreds of thousands of loyal unthinking robots might be the smart way to go for the future of their manufacturing business.
The specifics of the robots Foxconn plans to use have yet to surface, but if past rumors hold true, they may well plan on using the FRIDA ‘concept’ robot that was unveiled by Swiss-Swedish company ABB earlier this year.
While this may seem like good news to all of us eagerly awaiting a future utopia where robots complete all menial tasks, leaving humans free to relax and watch re-runs of Seinfeld, it bodes poorly for the 1.2 million employees currently employed by Foxconn. Despite the reported poor conditions, a wage is still a wage, and it will remain to be seen what effect these robots have on the Chinese economy. Especially as more and more companies are currently abandoning China in search of lower wages.
By Joel Herrick