Foxconn’s robot empire

Last week, Foxconn launched a $224-million project to build one million robots in the coming three years

Foxconn’s robot empire

Bobby Yip/Reuters

For all the love heaped on Apple’s artful products, critics have long pointed to a dark side—the working conditions at factories where iPhones and iPads are made. Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer that churns out the gadgets, has struggled in recent years with over a dozen worker suicides in China. In response, it has boosted wages and even put up netting to stop employees from jumping from rooftops.

Its latest bid to solve labour woes goes a step further. Last week, Foxconn launched a $224-million project to build one million robots in the coming three years to use in its factories. The output, which has been described in Taiwan as “an empire of robots,” will double the number of industrial robots in the world and replace 500,000 Foxconn workers. The company has said the efforts will move employees “higher up the value chain.” No doubt it will also ease rising labour costs and shortages.

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Foxconn’s robot empire

  1. “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

    William Gibson

  2. I’ve read about the “over a dozen suicides”, and it doesn’t strike me as notable.  Canada’s annual suicide rate is 11.4 per 100,000, while China’s is 13.85.  For a company employing 500,000 people, over a dozen over a few (3?) years is actually well below rough expectations*.

    *I say rough because we aren’t accounting for differences age, income, etc. From what I understand, the average Chinese factory work is a young person who has migrated from the interior to the coast.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

  3. The suicides at Foxconn were caused by the same feature of human physiology that caused the incident in 14 Ontario elementary schools last year, Subliminal Distraction. The school children did not have enough exposure to have depressive episodes but they did have racing hearts, dizziness, headaches, memory loss, trouble sleeping and other psychosomatic complaints.

    Pictures and video posted on line taken by TV news crews shows the same thing in Ontario, China, and at France Telecom. There have been 60 suicide attempts with a reported 30 deaths at France Telecom. Those workers have a 35 hour work week and union representation. The number of workers at France Telecom across France does not even approach the number in one Foxconn city/factory. That means the suicides in France are statistically very much higher.

    You can see those pictures on VisionAndPsychosis.Net. Read the Letters page, seventh link from the top of the Home page for the unrealized history of these mental breaks.

    The picture used to illustrate this article shows assembly line workers side-by-side without a periphral vision blocking scheme between them, Cubicle Level Protection. The office cubicle was designed to block peripheral vision to stop this problem by 1968. A pair of safety glasses with wide temple arms blacked out would stop the suicides for pennies in China. The worker on the right has her hair blocking peripheral vision on one side. That would prevent her detecting the movement of the worker beside her on her right.

    The mental event happens when your brain  experiences a massive number of subliminal FAILED attempts to execute the vision startle reflex. Because of the way your brain deals with the vision startle reflex subliminally, SD exposure cannot be consciously experienced. It is undetectable and cumulative in short time spans.

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