Workers have a new thing to fear in China: Robots.
Not because they will rise up against us and create some Terminator-styled wasteland, but because they're starting to take jobs from us. Well, in truth, robots have been taking jobs for quite some time; however, Foxconn just took us a rather huge leap forward in the robo-takeover.
Apple supplier Foxconn is slashing employee strength from 110,000 to just 50,000 due to the introduction of robots.
This move surfaces alongside those made by other companies based in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Kunshan that are pushing for greater strides in automation. Ultimately, thirty-five companies, including Foxconn, spent a total of 4 billion yuan ($610 million) on artificial intelligence last year, according to South China Morning Post. They claim that this is part of the industry's reaction to an industrial explosion that killed 146 people in 2014 (though that claim seems tenuous).
Another SCMP report indicates that a government survey has found out that as many as 600 major companies in Kunshan have similar plans as the Foxconn job cut.
Foxconn confirmed its job cut to Tech in Asia, and added, "...we are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees, and through training, also enable our employees to focus on higher value-added elements in the manufacturing process, such as research and development, process control and quality control.”
This is not really good news for Kunshan, which had a population of more than 2.5 million at the end of 2014, two-thirds of whom were migrant workers.
And its growth is certainly taking hits. At best, Kunshan can manufacture 120 million laptops a year, but output had fallen to only 51 million because of falling demand. Smartphones are the ones trying to play catch up, about 20 million units were made last year.