China's Answer To Inflation: SkyNet - Foxconn Plans To Replace Workers With Millions Of Robots

Tyler Durden's picture

SkyNet has taken over the market, it now appears poised to make labor and wages redundant (and while we hardly welcome our new robotic overlords, we doubt anyone would shed a tear if the House and Senate replaced its 535 corpulent windbags with a bunch of Johnny 5s engaged in binary colloquies). The world's biggest non-debt based slave-driver, Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, also known as the place where all of your iPhones, Pads, etc, are made, has just announced that it will deal with rising wages by doing what US-based quants have figured out years ago: outsource it all to robots. About a million of them. The irony is that the last time we looked at Foxconn, we asked: "what happens when this million realizes it can only buy half a McRib sandwich with the money it makes, courtesy of the primary US export to China, and demands a pay raise. What happens to Apple margins then?" We now have our answer. Per Xinhua: "Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday. The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers, said Gou at a workers' dance party Friday night." As a reminder, with over 1 million workers, Foxconn has enough people on its payroll that if mobilized would be the 5th largest army in the world, and just after WalMart in total number of employees, albeit instead of spread out around the world, are all concentrated in one small space.


The company currently has 10,000 robots and the number will be increased to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years, according to Gou.

Foxconn, the world's largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants, which some blamed on tough working conditions.

The company currently employs 1.2 million people, with about 1 million of them based on the Chinese mainland.

What happens when other Chinese companies, flush with CapEx-beckoning cash decide to do the same, and engage in a worker-for-debt swap? Sure margins will surge, Chinese imports will drop in price, but what about the imminent wave of discontent courtesy of tens of millions of laid off workers replaced with machines?

Is it time for another dystopian Philip K. Dick-esque novella looking at our increasingly roboticized future? Or do we all know by now how it ends?

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Irene's picture

Terminated.  The End.

Bent Nail's picture


dlmaniac's picture

So I guess we should, for example, all throw away our wireless cellphones in order for those cable phone makers to have their jobs back?

Ahmeexnal's picture

robots need their boots shined too.

that's something humans will be good at.

BigJim's picture

Good thinking. But why stop there? Think of all the extra employment if we banned shovels and insisted workers used toothpicks to dig holes. While we're at it - ban the internal combustion engine. Think of all the employment created in the booming new rickshaw sector.

Man, this job-creation policy formation stuff is easy!

trav7777's picture

I guess the robots will be the ones moving into those empty cities

High Plains Drifter's picture

that should help to increase the size of the chinese "middle class"  ..............

dwdollar's picture

I wonder if they will have a "one robo-child policy" or will they be able to replicate freely?

Bananamerican's picture

once you've had a robot, baby you'll never go back!!

indygo55's picture

Will the robots be made by workers or by other robots? Only a matter of time me thinks.

Yen Cross's picture

 that was a nice post 7777!   Thank you... Some will junk me...


   You made a valid point!

Sudden Debt's picture

+10 very good point!

I bet that company employ entire cities which will get a pink paper at best for services rendered.





BC6's picture

Let them eat iPad2's biatches!

Diatribe's picture

In Soviet Russia, YOU replace robots!

dwdollar's picture

Kind of makes one long for those Soviets...

knukles's picture

Ned Ludd was right.

BigJim's picture

I long for those halcyon days before the wheel destroyed 100% employment.

goldfish1's picture
Gold Coins Selling Out in Lisbon as Biggest Wager Sees 10% Gain - Bloomberg
Yen Cross's picture

 portugal, spain, iTALY                           aTRAVESTY!!!




                     Let's make smart people answer smart { QUESTIONS}    Like that spike in  AUD?    2012/8-01...

Infinite QE's picture

Just in time for Kissinger's planned WWW III as there will be millions more of unemployed Chinese youth looking to do something. Like march into 'merica to collect the debt!

carbonmutant's picture

US Military 50 Percent Robotic By 2015

Military expert Peter Singer's report to the  (TED) conference

sun tzu's picture

Will they march across the Pacific or take fishing boats?

Hobbleknee's picture

They will cruise right into our ports undetected in shipping containers.  O_O

jo6pac's picture

Great can they do that here I'm tried of driving into town to get my UI check/debt card and go to the bank. May be Robby can do it for me.

goldfish1's picture

Perhaps the displaced workers may start to terminate those who are making these decisions?

espirit's picture

Surprised that moving the whole shebang to Africa wasn't in the works... or perhaps it was.

Maybe when the oligarchs run out of cheap 3rd world labor, Amerika will have hit rock bottom.

Cynical Centaur's picture

What manufacturer is going to produce all these robots or are they the self-assembling type?

And who is going to service one million robots when they break down. More robots I guess.


And thus man makes himself obsolete.

Now where have I read about, seen or heard of this before... Probably some Sci-Fi book or movie or two.

WmMcK's picture

Asimov (and the laws of robotics) -- bitchez.

Long-John-Silver's picture

Could a Robot programed with Asimov's laws serve people Monsanto genetically modified foods?

WmMcK's picture

I'd say no, too harmful. Isaac was an optimist/idealist, though.

EHM's picture

I've heard this fear a million times. Robots don't just eliminate jobs they create new ones. I never imagined I would need to hire a search engine optimization specialist or better yet blog copywriter.

Pay Day Today's picture

How many search engine optimization specialist roles are created for every 10,000 Foxconn workers laid off? One?

Bananamerican's picture

"This look like a job for...UBER MAN!! That brawny broad shouldered capitalist and entrepreneur, that self made man of the panhandle standing astride the socialist welfare state like the colossus of's UBER MAN"

seanring's picture

EHM, you're totally correct.  From Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, Chapter 7 The Curse of Machinery:


Arkwright invented his cotton-spinning machinery in 1760. At that time it was estimated that there were in England 5,200 spinners using spinning wheels, and 2,700 weavers—in all, 7,900 persons engaged in the production of cotton textiles. The introduction of Arkwright's invention was opposed on the ground that it threatened the livelihood of the workers, and the opposition had to be put down by force. Yet in 1787—twenty-seven years after the invention appeared—a parliamentary inquiry showed that the number of persons actually engaged in the spinning and weaving of cotton had risen from 7,900 to 320,000, an increase of 4,400 per cent.


I wish that Barry O' read this passage before he made that asinine comment about ATM machines and the lack of bank tellers (!).

BigJim's picture

I wish Barry O' had read anything written by Hazlitt. What a different world this would be.

Goatboy's picture

I wouldnt call myself obsolete when machine washes and dries my clothes instead of me, while I enjoy time with friends or observing ZH.

Bananamerican's picture

"1st they came for the washer woman and i said nothing..."lol

Goatboy's picture

Isnt it great? Such moves will force us to rethink how we run economy and whether people are slavish metal screws of global machinery or human beings worthy of life and dignity. Those two are certainly not within factory walls or mine shafts. 

trav7777's picture

the libertarians will just tell you you aren't working hard enough

Goatboy's picture

Up to a point, yes. But even they will be forced by circumstances of technological reality to sober up, understand and change their 18th century fairy tales.

btw those were not fairy tales way back when.. same with slavery

Bananamerican's picture

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may thrive

In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, or say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to do
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs not nothing to do
Some machine is doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long black tube

In the year 7510
If God's a-comin' he ought to make it by then
Maybe he'll look around himself and say
Guess it's time for the Judgement day

In the year 8510
God's gonna shake his mighty head
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man's gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been 10,000 years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through
But through the eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday

StychoKiller's picture

RICH Economy step 1:
"Offer a prize of $50,000/year to any worker that designs a
machine/software/process that will replace him/her.
Offer an additional prize of $30,000/year to ALL OTHER WORKERS
that get replaced.
Answering conservative objections:
1. A machine works 24/7, thereby tripling output immediately.
2. Machines do not take sick leave.
3. Machines are never late for work.
4. Machines do not form unions and constantly ask for higher wages
   and more fringe benefits.
5. Machines do not take vacations.
6. Machines do not harbor grudges and foul up production in sneaky,
   undetectable ways.
7. Cybernation was advancing every decade anyway, despite the
   opposition of Unions, government, and other Alpha males; it was
   better to have huge populations celebrating the reward of $30K
   to $50K/year for group cleverness than huge populations suffering
   the humiliation of welfare.
8. With production rising due to Cybernation, consumers were needed
   and a society on welfare was a society of very meager consumers.

The majority of the unemployed, living comfortably on $30k/year, spent
most of their time drinking, smoking, engaging in primate sexual
acrobatics and watching TV."
When Moralists complained that this was a subhuman existence, Hubbard
answered, "And what kind of existence did they have doing idiot jobs
that machines do better?" -- R.A. Wilson

trav7777's picture

read ch. 17 Brave New World.  Leisure time isn't a benefit for most

Mike2756's picture

Isn't that the way it's always been? Cannon fodder forever!

Goatboy's picture

Thats what slaves thought once upon a time, for thousands of years.

Pay Day Today's picture

Did someone forget that the economy is supposed to serve the broader interests of society? Not just 100,000 or so major shareholders spread around the world?