Foxconn, the manufacturer of iPhones and numerous other electronic devices and components, has announced a plan to replace most of their human workers with robots.
As reported in The Verge, “The first phase of Foxconn’s automation plans involve replacing the work that is either dangerous or involves repetitious labor humans are unwilling to do. The second phase involves improving efficiency by streamlining production lines to reduce the number of excess robots in use. The third and final phase involves automating entire factories, “with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing, and inspection processes.”
Foxconn has already automated more than half the jobs at one of their large factories, and say they can produce 10,000 “Foxbots” per year.
Foxconn currently employs 1.2 million people, and their “iPhone City” plant can produce 500,000 iPhones every day. They have come under intense pressure for mistreating workers, at one point having to put up “suicide nets” to stop workers from jumping to their deaths.
Increase In Automated Manufacturing Has Downsides
The rise of automation around the world will have benefits for big companies, and will make some products cheaper, but it will also throw countless people out of work.
Without measures to support workers and create the business environment for good jobs, the benefits of automation will be concentrated in the hands of a few, while the vast majority of people fall further and further away from prosperity.
That will lead to further anger and unrest, unless we make sure that the opportunity to succeed is open to the majority of people.
So, as we embrace the potential of automation, we must make sure it doesn’t leave millions of people behind.
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