Monday, August 1, 2011

Million Robot March

August 1, 2011
Foxconn to rely more on robots; could use 1 million in 3 years

The China Business News on Monday quoted Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou as saying the company planned to use 1 million robots within three years, up from about 10,000 robots in use now and an expected 300,000 next year.


Foxconn employs about 1.2 million workers, one million of which are based in mainland China, the China Business News said.

The mind boggles at how much work can be done by 1 million robots. My gut says it is a heck of a lot more work than 1.2 million workers can do.

June 22-29, 2056
The Onion: Million Robot March Attended by Exactly 1,000,000 Robots

Note that the joke is 40+ years ahead of schedule.

This story has been hitting me from all sides today. I read it over at Market Ticker. I then received an email from Mr Slippery. Foo also pointed it out in the comments. Thanks all.

This is the most important story of the year to me, for reasons that will be clear if you read what I wrote in 2007.

September 25, 2007
Automation and Inequality

The extrapolator in me has always wondered what would happen if we could automate all of our jobs away. Now I think I might know. As it relates to farm labor, wages are simply redistributed. The total amount of real wages (wages adjusted by the CPI) has held fairly constant over the years. If you are lucky enough to keep your job, you'll be worth more. You'll be happy. If you aren't, well, sorry about that.

If one was to keep extrapolating this trend to its logical conclusion, at some point there will be just one farmer. He'll have all the wages and will simply press the "harvest" button on his desk.

The global economy cannot survive accelerating income inequality. Once again, it is not the automation that is bad. It is how we deal with it. One cannot and should not halt the advance of technology. It should make all of us more prosperous. What it will actually end up doing may be a different story entirely though (as seen through the eyes of Foxconn workers if nothing else).


EconomicDisconnect said...

I have been way in front of this issue for years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stagflationary Mark said...


Lighthouses: An Administrative History

During World War I and the period following, several technological advances contributed to the automation of lighthouses, rendering human occupancy unnecessary. A device for automatically replacing burned-out electric lamps in lighthouses was developed and placed in several light stations in 1916. A bell alarm warning keepers of fluctuations in the burning efficiency of oil-vapor lamps was developed in 1917. In the same year, the first experimental radiobeacon was installed in a lighthouse. The first automatic radiobeacon in the United States began service in 1928.

So we've got that going for us. D'oh! ;)