Chances are, if you’ve heard of the Chinese technology giant FoxConn, it’s because it manufactures the iPhone and iPad. Last year, at an iPhone manufacturing complex in South China, there were a number of worker suicides that made news.
In apparent attempt to fix some of its labor issues, Foxconn’s parent company, Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry, is now making a big push into robots.
From the AFP:
The project, which is initially forecast to cost the Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Tw$6.7 billion ($223 million), was unveiled Saturday when Terry Gou, chairman of the conglomerate, broke ground for the construction of a research and development unit in Taichung, central Taiwan.
“The investment marks the beginning of Hon Hai’s bid to build an empire of robots,” the Central Taiwan Science Park authorities said in a statement.
Foxconn’s first client will apparently be itself.
Foxconn, hit by a spate of suicides at its Chinese plants, plans to replace 500,000 workers with robots in the next three years, official media earlier reported.
Foxconn — the world’s largest maker of computer components, which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia — plans to use one million robots to do “simple” work, China Business News quoted Gou as saying in August.
Assuming this whole robot thing catches on, how many Chinese who do “simple” work stand to lose their job to a robot over the next decade?
There’s more. From the Taiwan News Channel:
In addition to signing the pact, Gou also presided over a ground-breaking ceremony for an intelligent robotics technology research facility and the inauguration of a factory of Foxnum Technology Co., a Hon Hai subsidiary dedicated to development and production of automation equipment, at the central Taiwan high-tech park.
Gou said Hon Hai will build an “intelligent robotics kingdom” in the park in the coming few years. The project is expected to generate an estimated NT$120 billion (US$4 billion) in production value in the next three to five years and create about 2,000 jobs, he added.
Is something getting lost in translation here? Or is language like empire of robots and intelligent robotics kingdom, purposefully dystopian?
[HT: Frank Tobe]