Everyone’s favorite Taiwanese consumer electronics manufacturer Foxconn has announced that it will increase its robot workforce 100 fold in the next three years. Foxconn, which is responsible for the manufacture of Apple’s iPad among other devices, currently employs over 1.2 million people but only 10,000 robots. By 2014, Foxconn plans to make that 1 million robots. The company’s founder Terry Gou broke the news during a “company dance party” this past Friday, saying that the new ‘bots would help reduce rising labor costs and increase efficiency.
Aside from its affiliation with Apple, Foxconn has mostly made headlines over its treatment of employees, and a rash of suicides amongst its workers. The company also famously operates a company-owned community, drawing inevitable comparisons to American coal towns. Whether these new robots will help improve working conditions or the company’s image remains to be seen. What also remains to be seen is whether such a massive addition to Foxconn’s robotic workforce will lead to human layoffs, or simply greater production capacity.
But this might not be the end of Foxconn’s problems, since depression is not an unheard of condition for robots.
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