Archive for May, 2016

Factory Workers Lose Jobs to Robots

Foxconn, the major supplier for both Apple and Samsung, just replaced 60,000 of its workers with robots. According to one government official who spoke to the South China Morning Post, one factory has “reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots.”

foxconnAccording to Xu Yulian, head of publicity for the Kunshan region, “More companies are likely to follow suit.”

China has been making major investments in the creation and implementation of a robotic workforce, much to the dismay of many human workers fearful for their jobs.

Foxconn Technology Group confirmed its automation of “many of the manufacturing tasks associated with our operations” but denied that this would necessary lead to long-term job losses.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

“We will continue to harness automation and manpower in our manufacturing operations, and we expect to maintain our significant workforce in China.”

Factories across Dongguan, located in the Guangdong province, have invested over around $450 million into the creation of robots that could replace human workers since 2014.

Economists have expressed heavy warnings regarding the automation of jobs and the effect it could have on the job market and the quality of human life. Consultants with the Deloitte in partnership with Oxford University released a report that suggests that up to 35% of jobs may be at risk within the next 20 years.

foxconn2According to Ed Rensi, former McDonald’s chief executive, a minimum-wage increase to $15 would force companies to consider opting into robot workers:

“It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who is inefficient, making $15 an hour bagging French fries,” he stated.

The automation of jobs and steady development of the tech industry may cause many to consider what has gone largely undiscussed in our internet era: what is the purpose of technology, and for whom is it supposed to function? To automate a process once performed by thousands of workers without creating some new jobs for those workers to complete would constitute an advancement in technology that can be argued is not for the betterment of humanity or the optimization of the robothuman standard of life. When technological advancements are made not with the intention of helping society at large but instead with the intention of helping one small pocket of society become powerful (technology of war and big business), the necessity for governments to step in and police advancement itself can be argued for.

But what would that policing look like, and what kind of government would be worthy to make such difficult and philosophical decisions? And who can really control whether a technologist creates something that will give power to a group of people or not? It’s a sticky situation and a moral quandry that is up to younger generations to decide.

The Future of Internet Free-Speech in the United States

We are in a major time of flux in the United States regarding the future of the internet and the state of free speech in

U.S. Republican presidential candidate, real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump makes a point as he formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during an event at Trump Tower in New York June 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  - RTX1GRB9

the internet age. With so much hanging in the balance in the wake of several high profile news stories and cases it is important to become informed of what the most powerful seat in the world thinks of this regard and how their aim to influence policy here. With the election cycle wrapping up and with so little coverage being given to this topic voters should be aware of what they stand to gain from their next president, or tragically lose in this regard. Here are what the remaining presidential candidates views are in regards to Free Speech on the internet and the preservation or curtailment of it.

Hillary Clinton:

Hillary is a strong supporter of censoring the speech of terrorist groups and monitoring the internet closely to ensure “national security.” The problem in this regard is her vagueness in determine what defines a terrorist group and to what extent she is willing to go to obtain such information in this respect. Her word on the shutting down of online terrorists accounts are as follows, “Resolve means depriving jihadists of virtual territory just as we work to deprive them of actual territory. They are using websites social media, chat rooms, and other platforms to celebrate beheading, recruit future terrorists, and call for attacks. We should work with host companies to shut them down.”

I don’t think that many people have a problem with that broad explanation of things that are clearly wrong and should be stopped. however, what defines terrorism? as it stands today the measures Hillary is advocating for a broad and wide ranging and can apply to anyone who has an adverse view of the state. This is a scary president and should be taken into consideration at the ballot box.


Bernie Sanders:

Up next is Bernie who has resisted internet censorship in various forms throughout his career. He voted against the failed PIPA anti-piracy bill, which was pushed hard by the Hollywood lobby but ultimately failed back in 2012. Essentially the bill was branded as an anti piracy bill but went way further than was necessary in curtailing the rights of citizens on the web. His words when considering the black list this would make for internet users, are as follows “it is absolutely essential that the internet remain open and free of censorship or the chilling effects that result in self-censorship.”



Donald Trump:

The tiny hand crusader is not swayed by the “chilling effects” that result from the censorship and communications of terrorist groups on the internet. He’d like to actually help censor everyone a little bit more. he says that, “we have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say ‘oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people we have a lot of foolish people. we have a lot of foolish people.”