Friday, May 27, 2016

Your Next iPhone Could be Built by Robot Workers

Credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Foxconn – Replace Human Workers with Mechanical Ones

One of the manufacturing companies developing iPhones has replaced around 6,000 factory workers with robots. According to the South China Morning Post, Foxconn that tends to produce components for Apple and Samsung has reduced the workforce in half, in one of its factories to replace the human workers with the mechanical ones. It has not been revealed by the company, what factory the robots seem to be working in and if they would be manufacturing the iPhone 7.

The workers in the US have been demanding $15 per hour wages, which has put pressure on employers. Though the initial investment in robots could be higher, they could be beneficial in the future since they don’t tend to get sick, deterred or have other problems. Reports from China have shown that Foxconn pays its employees very low together with unwarranted stress on them with big orders. One report has suggested that the company had installed safety nets in the factory in order to prevent the workers from committing suicide. A spokesman for Foxconn had mentioned that they are applying robotics engineering as well as other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace the monotonous task which was earlier done by employees.

Harnesses Automation

It has been indicated by Foxconn that it intends to grow its robotic employee roster as it `harnesses automation. On doing so, it expects that its human workforce would be able to focus on higher value added elements in the process of manufacturing, like research, development as well as quality control. The manufacturer had spoken to BBC and had confirmed that a lot of the manufacturing tasks seem to be automated though did not mention whether this would mean huge job cuts all over the board.

The company has plans to train its workers to focus on other elements in the manufacturing process. The robots would be brought in to ensure that monotonous task earlier done by humans would be performed by the machines. According to the experts it is an accepted element that the robots would be replacing human workers and within a span of 30 years it would be likely that mechanical beings would take over most of the jobs.

Changeover to Robots Hurtful to Human Job Markets

Moshe Vardi, professor in computational engineering had mentioned at a conference earlier in the year that they are approaching a time when machines would be capable of outperforming humans at almost any task. With the increase of robots, humans will end with an existential dilemma. Vardi states that computer scientists have been working on building machines which could compete in everything humans tend to do.

 If machines are capable of doing all the work or even 50% of the jobs that humans tend to do, what will the people do? Companies which operate in the region where Foxconn had engaged its robotic workforce had invested 4.2 billion yen in robots since September 2014. The first employee in the UK which could lose out to robots is customer service agents.

With Silicon Valley giants going directly with new chatbots, there would be interaction with more and more robotic customer service personnel instead of human employees. The changeover to robots would be hurting the human job market though the manufacturers are of the belief that it would open up potentials for highly skilled workers to fill in the vital posts.

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