programmable robots are now cheaper than human beings


2 minutes

:: this is a lazy video dump/post with a few thoughts from me trying to pull them together. it is public thinking. feedback welcome ::

meet baxter – the robot with common sense who’s younger siblings will probably make 100m chinese workers unemployed.

he might look a bit stupid & slow now, and im also not sure about his emoticon flat screen face and the look in his eyes… but im also not so sure about what happens when we plug a human prosthesis like the bebionic3 into its β€˜hands’?

i mean seriously, the guy above with one of these hands can pick up/crack eggs and shit. i see no reason why these would not be industrially produced to work in factory conditions soon.


the labour movement in china has gathered a lot of pace in the last 18 months. it hasn’t been very well reported or been very visible in the mainstream media here in the UK. but strikes are happening. and some of the are pretty damn large: 4000 sanyo works, 6000 shoe workers, 4000 foxconn workers strike After iPhone 5 Starts Brawls (Updated).

As a consequence it seems foxconn has ordered a fuck ton of robots:


β€œAccording to a translated page from the Chinese site Techweb, each robot costs between $20,000 to $25,000, which is over three times the average salary of one worker. However, amid international pressure, Foxconn continues to increase worker salaries with a 25 percent bump occurring earlier this year.”

:: programable robots are now cheaper than human beings ::

and within a few short years will be just as capable in handling the intricate tasks of electrical construction.

so my question i guess is – what then?

  • what then for china and its huge swathes of newly employed and then subsequently unemployed workers?
  • what then for the GM and the US auto industry already struggling to maintain its jobs and compete against the cheap labour in the east?
  • will manufactuing return to europe and other β€˜western’ countries it off shored decades ago? – of the costs of electrical goods made in china, almost β…“ is now transport.

manufacturing might just end up coming back – but the jobs definitely arn’t.

i’m think im going to write a much longer post on global justice and supply chain oppression at some point. and what i think it means for the worker’s struggle vs neoliberalism’s mantra of with regard to the full automation of manufacturing.

but for now, what could these future be? my best guess, is either like george jetsons:


its destitution and poverty for everybody

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  1. Zaza avatar

    Interesting thoughts. The developments are certainly going to be tough for individuals on short term, but we could ask ourselves if it may not be for the better on long term that we automize this kind of work as it on general does not satisfy people.

  2. alrazimasri avatar

    I think this would be a good place to link this story of Manna and the two possible futures of automation

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