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World’s largest electronics manufacturer may solve human rights violations by replacing workers with robots

World’s largest electronics manufacturer may solve human rights violations by replacing workers with robots

The world’s largest electronics manufacturer with a reputation for human rights abuses, Foxconn, looks to replace human workers with robots in three phases at its Chinese factories.

If you own any electronic device, odds are it was built in a Foxconn factory. Products by Apple, Sony, Amazon, Nintendo, and many other big name brands all have their hardware roots in Foxconn’s facilities.

Apart from having a reputation of being “ranked first among Taiwan enterprises according to the evaluation of Taiwan Ratings for ten consecutive years,” Foxconn is also known for the 14 suicides that took place at its factories due to poor working conditions and human rights abuses in 2010.

With the additional threat of a “mass suicide protest,” the corporation installed “suicide nets” on their buildings to discourage workers from leaping to their deaths.

human rights

A man walks outside one of the Foxconn factory buildings with nets which are installed to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths in Langfang, Hebei Province August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Now, it seems that Foxconn wants to do away with most of its workers altogether — the human kind that is. Digitimes reported on Friday that Foxconn “is automating production at its factories in China in three phases, aiming to fully automate entire factories eventually.”

What better way to solve the human rights abuse question than by eliminating those who would complain? It would certainly prevent another fiasco like the one in 2012 when 2,000 employees staged a riot that shut down one of Foxconn’s plants in the city of Taiyuan.

The three phrases of automation according to Foxconn general manager Dai Jia-peng as reported by Digitimes are:

  1. To set up individual automated work stations for work that workers are unwilling to do or is dangerous.
  2. Entire production lines will be automated to decrease the number of robots used.
  3. Entire factories will be automated with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing and inspection processes.

In actuality, what Foxconn is doing is quite innovative with over 40,000 industrial robots called Foxbots produced in-house, and the company can even manufacture 500,000 iPhones every day, according to the New York Times.

While the Taiwan-based Foxconn is “China’s largest private employer,” the corporation is pushing the Artificial Intelligence agenda to replace human workers with robots in full force.

However, if machines are to replace humans in the workforce, which has been an issue since the Industrial Revolution, then who would benefit?

Read More: Job-stealing restaurant robots fired for incompetence & the future of the workforce

Theoretically, if all workers are to be robots, then what are the non-robots — you and I? How do we make a living? It is statistically and logically impossible for humans to make money if they do not have jobs because they were replaced by robots. So what happens to us?

As Autodesk CEO Carl Bass put it, “The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”

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  1. kasiourasg@gmail.com'

    George

    January 9, 2017 at 1:12 PM

    It’s not the first time that we hear about this “robots working in the place of humans” problem, one of the answers that the managers usually gave to interviewers was “In order for these robots to be made, humans are needed to create them and to perform a basic maintenance, so while we cut off places for employment we add new ones at the same time”.
    Unfortunately I can’t remember who was saying these things but the thing is, how much of all those can we actually believe?

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@TimHinchliffe

Tim Hinchliffe is a veteran journalist whose passions include writing about how technology impacts society and Artificial Intelligence. He prefers writing in-depth, interesting features that people actually want to read. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co

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