Apple’s U.S. manufacturing may be more automated

Last week, we learned that Apple plans to sink $100 million into U.S. manufacturing. Some of the company’s new iMacs are already being assembled domestically.

ComputerWorld has written up an interesting story about what Apple’s U.S. manufacturing push might look like. According to the analysts and industry experts who spoke to the site, Apple will probably "rely heavily on automation." Products may be built almost entirely by robots instead of being put together by underpaid laborers, as they are now in China.

Whatever Apple builds, "you can guarantee it will be using the most up-to-date and modern factory automation equipment that one can buy," said Robert Atkinson, president of The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and author of Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage.
Atkinson said Apple will build a leading facility partly because it’s Apple, but also because of the relative high cost of U.S. labor. "You’ve got to use automation more than you might in China," he said.

The site also describes an example scenario where a slab of aluminum might be turned into a chassis, filled with components, and assembled into a working product, all (apparently) without direct human involvement.

According to IHS iSuppli, assembly costs for the iPhone 5, which is manufactured in China, added up to around $8 as of September. The same device has a bill-of-materials cost of $199 and sells for $649. Judging by those figures, I think Apple could probably afford higher-paid workers and still make a humongous profit. I like the robot idea better, though. Jobs on those Foxconn assembly lines look pretty soul-crushing, and automated assembly might yield higher product quality. "Low cost labor hides a lot of sins," Rethink Robotics VP Jim Daly tells ComputerWorld.

Comments closed
    • Joe Miller
    • 7 years ago

    I just want to thank all the people who contributed to the discussion here of automated work, economics, central planning.

    Look at countries in Eastern Europe who went from completely central planning to some form of free market – it was disastrous for many people. The education system is in ruins. Lots of homeless people. Very few can afford good medical services. The elder barely survive, staying in cold.
    Everybody is obsessed with making money, yet the money is not enough for good living as we work long hours to get more money, and yet inflation eats them.

    Wealth distribution is certainly needed. Poor kids do not go to schools, they try to find whatever job. Or living in a bad community, where not going to any schools is a way of life. These kids are never going to be able to live good life.

    • Risme
    • 7 years ago

    This is another example of industries replacing more and more human labor with automation. What this leads to is that the majority of people will not soon have the necessary purchasing power to buy goods and services produced; no matter how cheap. This will inevitably cause the collapse of the monetary system. Furthermore the establishment has also been trying to solve the underlying socio-economic problems by various different approaches based on the mechanisms of the monetary system, but they do not understand that they cannot solve these problems by using the same mechanisms that cause them. They simply have entirely wrong tools to solve the problems, so they are toothless.

    Meanwhile fewer and fewer have the necessary funds to have access to education, unemployment rate will soon start to rise again as U.S. will most likely be in recession starting in first half of 2013, U.S. fiscal cliff is less than a month away and your government is going to hit the debt ceiling almost at the same time, the number of people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is increasing fast and so on. Here’s some data on SNAP participant numbers: [url<]http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/snapmain.htm[/url<] And that's just U.S. this is happening all over the world to various degree. However, there are solutions to the problems we face today, you can research those by exploring The Venus Project's website: [url<]http://www.thevenusproject.com[/url<] and by watching the documentary film Paradise or Oblivion [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KphWsnhZ4Ag[/url<] which gives a short introduction to what The Venus Project proposes.

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    A blast from the past:

    [url<]http://goo.gl/DsdKZ[/url<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      And now where are those robots? The unemployment lines. Shame on Steven H. Jobs.

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    Foxconn’s Chairman has long said that they need to invest heavily in robotic manufacturing in order to raise productivity and compete with other manufacturers. He only needed Apple to come aboard and teach his people robotics best practices and sources. This is probably just a localized initiative to help Foxconn upgrade its production lines so that it could become a more dominant OEM and ODM source who is still loyal to Apple’s product plans.

      • End User
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]He only needed Apple to come aboard and teach his people robotics best practices and sources.[/quote<] It would not be in Apple's best interest to do that: [url<]http://goo.gl/zCmTE[/url<]

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        That woud be so if Foxconn’s leadership had the ambition to be more than an OEM shop, more aggressive about emplacing its own brand worldwide, and less ethical about supplier-customer covenants. In other words, more like Samsung’s criminally-minded chaebol owners. But perhaps they aren’t so.

        That was an interesting article which brings out points I’ve long thought about.

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          Foxconn’s apparent loyalty to Apple is solely based on the enormous demand for Apple products. While this sort of Apple exclusivity may limit certain freedoms on how Foxconn conducts business, it makes Foxconn’s current business model an almost un-paralleled success. China’s growing modern industrialization has up until now focused on industries that best suits the capabilities of its work force (relative to others around the globe). So far, this has been mostly moderate-skill, cheaper labour. Companies like Foxconn have demonstrated that with a large enough work force willing to work for low wages and long enough hours, you can achieve the assembly of almost anything if you break it down into small enough steps and still be very profitable.

          China is developing some very high tech industries. While more and more of their resources may be geared toward R&D, allowing the more focused pursuit of higher order innovation in the near future, the bulk of it today exists as some form of assembly-line type of manufacturing. Work that can be broken down into relatively simple component tasks (that’s not to say they don’t require skill – just not a lot of education or training beyond what any assembly-line worker requires). Whether producing/assembling computer/electronics components or carbon-fiber road-bike frames. For example, recently China has begun to provide state of the art high-throughput genomic sequencing services. Thanks to the recent advent of highly computerized sequencing machines, much of the “science” can be left at the door. There are large facilities in China (well at least one) where millions have been invested in these sequencing machines that, while normally would be run by one or two highly skilled/trained scientists/technicians in other labs are run by an entire assembly line of workers, half of which whose only job is to monitor that those doing the work are doing so correctly (via checklists and video monitoring). The result is that these sequencing facilities are becoming preferred to their western counterparts as the assembly-line approach is starting to result in more reliable results (less human error) – and probably cheaper costs.

          Back to the topic at hand, right now, Foxconn has no impetus to rock the Apple boat because the arrangement best suits their resources (availability of cheap, competent labor). But this relationship probably won’t last forever. In the short term, as soon as Apple products demand hits a plateau, and god forbid, starts to decline, watch how fast Foxconn jumps ship and begins using their residual Apple-inspired resources to start developing their own brand(s) (in addition to working as an OEM for others like it always has). In the long-term, it may no longer suit China to provide a large proportion of the cheap labor for most of the rest of the developed world.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Foxconn is always under intense Chinese pressure to maintain workforce levels in the mainland. A lot of local and regional officials’ careers depends on keeping the nearest factory fully staffed across as many shifts as possible. The massively scaled OEM partnership with Apple is a main driver in helping them meet both employment and output targets.

            You are probably right that Chairmen Gou has no interest in rocking the current arrangement as it nicely suits both his stated business and personal goals. He even came out in the media to swing for Apple during the latest round of competitive launches, which is somewhat rare behavior. Whether or not this is contractually or else personally motivated, Foxconn’s Taiwanese leader has cultivated its reputation of being a reliable and partner-friendly OEM which manages diverse production partnerships without engendering too many conflict-of-interest or partner ethics issues.

            Foxconn’s corporate ways are not of old entrepot chinese practices in the sense that its governance is somewhat modern and professional. And yet its leaders’ ethical behavior have served it well in maintaining business relationships (industrial and worker practices are another matter of course). This currently contrasts with that of ruling-family-controlled Korean chaebol like Samsung, whose patriarch is pushing an aggrandizing strategy shamelessly favoring its own brand prospects over that of its partners like Apple. Older Koreans tend to be more brusquely individualistic and nationalistic and less community-centered than other east asians, and Samsung’s actions would stun a normal Japanese or Taiwanese boardroom. Unlike in the example of many Chinese OEM complete spin-offs like Acer’s Wistron, Samsung’s OEM divisions still retain conflicted relationships with the parent brand due to their common chaebol style of management and cross-shareholdings.

    • anotherengineer
    • 7 years ago

    ” instead of being put together by underpaid laborers, as they are now in China.”

    Well when you have over a BILLION people, they have to do something.

    Automation in China would probably destroy their own economy since you could layoff probably more than half of the workers.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Automation in China would probably destroy their own economy since you could layoff probably more than half of the workers.[/quote<] Yes, unless the benefits of automation are shared with the population. Of course, that will never happen because those who "made" money won't want to share the wealth that "belongs" to them

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        The benefits are shared through lower prices and/or bigger and better things.

        Do more or less people have indoor plumbing than X years ago? Do more or less people have electricity than X years ago? Do more or less people have cars today than X years ago? Do more or less people have internet access than X years ago? Do more or less people have computers today than X years ago? Do more or less people have cell phones than X years ago? Do I really need to keep going?

        I certainly don’t feel ripped off when I can buy a quad-core, smartphone, or tablet for $100, and choose to do so.

        I would feel very ripped off if someone told me, under the threat that I’d be kidnapped, that I have to buy only one thing, which I did not choose.

        Yes, there are places in the world which are still dirt poor or in such turmoil that they can’t supply their own food. But you need to ask why that is for those specific places. North Korea? Central planners. Iran? Sanctions through foreign central planners. Syria? Civil war incited by central planners.

        You present it as some concept never seen before, with only the potential for good. And yet you ignore the reality all around us.

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          You’re missing the point; most likely because you’re one of the privileged few who don’t lose their job to automation. I’m not talking about those who are happy because they can buy a smartphone/tablet cheaper – I’m talking about those who can’t buy rice to feed their family because Foxconn doesn’t need human labor anymore. Please try to think a bit more globally. Think about the people who are well below your income level.

          I look around the US and I see people who are dirt poor, who can’t feed their families or themselves. That’s the result of your free market approach. I look around Northern Europe, and I see nobody who can’t feed their families or themselves. Fairness through central planning. Yes; I can pick isolated examples, too. You’re condemning “central planning” a bit too quickly. Yes, there is potential for bad, but you seem to think that’s the [i<]only[/i<] possible outcome. Also, you seem to be unable to look into the future. What do you think happens here if there are NO manufacturing jobs anymore, all replaced by automation. How do you think people are going to get money to buy those $100 tables?

    • oldog
    • 7 years ago

    The future of manufacturing is local. There are good economic reasons for this largely related to international monetary exchange rates. This will occur worldwide i.e. manufacturing in Asia will be for Asians etc.

    I have predicted for ages that manufacturing would return to the US in a very big way but with the difference being that it would happen without increasing employment to any great degree. This trend can be seen in the US data regarding manufacturing output vs. employment in the manufacturing sector. The recent change in the balance of petrochemical stores is also playing a part in this trend.

    I believe that the number of manufacturing job has been in decline since the 1970’s. Nevertheless, manufacturing output continues to grow in the US.

    The tech community can congratulate themselves for powering this change to date. The next wave will clearly be robotic and self healing information systems.

    My advice; invest in robotics, start a robotic manufacturing facility or be in a service industry. For instance the medical industry for instance is likely to be a good one for many years (hard to replace such a labor intensive activity with robots).

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    I would imagine with the new manufacturing technique the IMacs use, it makes a lot more sense just to automate the entire process and bring it stateside. Streamlines manufacturing, as well as increasing consistency, and cuts a lot of shipping costs

    • brute
    • 7 years ago

    yes but if the apple make the pods and pads and macs in the US, many jobs created through construction. temporary maybely, yes, but still job.

    biggest concern is robocop factory.

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 7 years ago

    While I think this is the “future” of manufacturing, that is automation reducing the total workforce by a factor of ten, and those jobs that do exist being on-average higher skill than before (which has already happened compared to the industrial era)…
    …What I foresee happening (as I mentioned in other articles), Apple will get the same huge tax breaks, and the increase in jobs will not balance out those breaks, a net negative for the economy.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      So when scarce resources are allocated mutually on a market, instead of by crony central planners through force, it hurts the economy? Wow.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        When people lose their jobs to robots, they can’t afford to buy the products the robots are making. The few that “make” money by investing in robotics and automation won’t spend enough to keep the economy going. So, yes – this will hurt the “economy” in the end.

        This hasn’t been a problem in the past, but it will be in the future. This sort of paradigm shift in economics needs some new thinking – “free” market is inherently an unstable system and we’re starting to see that instability manifest itself now.

        Central planning could steer some of that disproportionately concentrated wealth to others to keep the economy more stable. Moreover, central planning could steer some funds into education to prepare the society for the future where all jobs are either high-skill jobs or service jobs. “Free” market most certainly won’t be able to do this kind of steering; the current education system in the US and the gap between skilled jobs and skilled workers available are clear examples of how badly the free market fails in stuff like this.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          It’s interesting that your proposed system of central planning is exactly the inherently unstable system we are stuck with today, in the US and all other developed countries.

          [quote<]Moreover, central planning could steer some funds into education to prepare the society for the future where all jobs are either high-skill jobs or service jobs.[/quote<] So you want trade schools? They've already provided on much closer to a free market, and cost a lot less. [quote<]the current education system in the US and the gap between skilled jobs and skilled workers available are clear examples of how badly the free market fails in stuff like this.[/quote<] State schools, state student loans, and state curriculums for "private" schools are not a free market. Unless you're like 150 years old, you've never seen a free market with no central planning. The internets come close, but that's it. Incidentally, I learn a hell of a lot more from the internets than I ever did from public education. I also learn more about how to do a job by actually doing it.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]It's interesting that your proposed system of central planning is exactly the inherently unstable system we are stuck with today, in the US and all other developed countries.[/quote<] The instability here is caused by [i<]lack[/i<] of central planning and regulation. Things are much more stable in Northern Europe. [quote<]State schools, state student loans, and state curriculums for "private" schools are not a free market.[/quote<] The state schools here are nowhere near what I'm thinking. Allocation of open slots based on what Central Planning (together with the industry) determines is needed for providing a capable workforce in the future is much better than this mess and horribly expensive system we have now. Why are tuitions going through the roof? High tuitions alone are an example of a broken educational system. [quote<]Unless you're like 150 years old, you've never seen a free market with no central planning[/quote<] Sure. But I've seen a system with [b<]more[/b<] central planning that what we have here, and it's working better. [quote<]Incidentally, I learn a hell of a lot more from the internets than I ever did from public education.[/quote<] Are you sure that's not an example of how bad your public education is..?

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Robots don’t always reduce the total cost to ship a product, especially if the existing manufacturing plant already pumps out enough gizmos. If the robot total lifecycle cost is less, and they’re a high up-time part of the overall process that meets/exceeds quality requirements and availability requirements…. then yes they can be a win. You still need to hire operators and maintenance guys to keep them running in tip top conditions… so basically who cares? Early robots have been a part of modern manufacturing principles since before pretty much any one of us was born so good on them. Every other manufacturing business in the US / any developed nation uses robots too. Do they get meaningless articles like this published about them? God no, not since the 70s.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    Good news for US suppliers and shippers. Not such good news for lower-skill workers who are not up to speed on running CNC devices and repairing iRobots.

    • jdaven
    • 7 years ago

    Given the increase in automation, the increase in population and the increase in the desire to have a good job with good pay, I say we are heading toward a major clusterfrack.

    The robots are probably going to win without even firing a shot.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 7 years ago

      1812 called, and it wants its Luddites back.

        • Vasilyfav
        • 7 years ago

        Just because you’re clueless doesn’t mean jobs aren’t getting destroyed permanently by automation.

        US went from 4.5% to 8% structural unemployment. And that’s WHILE going from 67% to 62% labor participation rate.

          • wierdo
          • 7 years ago

          The future in this area is manual labor replaced by highly technical jobs – engineers etc. It’s a natural progression.

          There’s no way around it in the longterm, people will have to either have the advanced skills/degrees necessary to do these jobs or find work in other markets, progress like this is not good news for everyone sadly.

          I’m frankly surprised it hasn’t taken off in outlets like McDonalds and Walmart, I guess the automation costs are still high enough to keep them out of those places for now.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 7 years ago

            And it takes fewer highly technical jobs to replace those manual labor ones. It’s cool, and I’m not saying automation is all bad, but it’s somethign that has to be considered. If we over-automate, we wind up in a position where there’s nobody to buy those items you can create so easily with robots. Eventually the robots are in the unemployment line, too.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            The internet automated all sorts of jobs out of existence and drove some production costs down to literally zero. It hasn’t become unemployed yet.

            In fact, it’s still expanding to make even more things cost zero, manufacturing included.

            Look at 3D printers. They are part of the internets, and will lead to people downloading open source shoes or whatever a person can think of.

            It is disheartening that I have to point this out on, of all places, a technology enthusiast website that is on the internet. To say that automated manufacturing stands any chance of harming the world is to say that the internet made us all worse off.

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Hype not withstanding, 3D printers are fairly limited in what they can do. The source materials have to begin as goo, which limits the range of inputs, and complex shapes that can’t be raised out of a plane begin to require forms and molds and additional assembly steps. At that point the 3D printer becomes just another tool in a computerized assembly line — a good one, properly applied, but not some miracle device that allows you to fabricate dozens of ordinary consumer goods at home.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            …yet.

            They don’t need to be in your home, though, and might be better off as complex, industrial grade installations that are farmed out as a service. For example, I don’t need one the size of an aircraft hangar to print out planes, but I know that is an idea which has already been proposed.

            Staples is going to have them in stores. The stage is set.

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            While The internet can certainly reduce certain important barrier costs for some markets (especially for smaller businesses), how does it do this to any real degree for manufacturing? As far as I’m concerned, the only jobs the internet “automated out of existence” were pretty much information services jobs (ie, 411/directory assistance operators, On-Star type Navigation operators, etc) and perhaps a few other niche service areas such as income-tax return filing (now that it’s easier to do with online software and such) and some retail. Online sales have replaced store-front retail to some degree (in some markets more than others), so you could argue that some retail/customer service jobs have been replaced by fewer workers working out of call centers and in IT, etc. But there are many industries the internet is not affecting to any large degree job-wise and I think manufacturing is one of these.

            And 3D printers are a long way off from making something even as complex as a serviceable shoe (unless perhaps we’re talking plastic flip-flops or things like Crocks,etc). Even if there were production 3D printers sophisticated enough to make a shoe out of a range of materials people would actually want to buy, these machines would cost way more to purchase, use and maintain than the wages paid to have them made by humans in the countries where most are currently. Certainly predicting the time when such a machine will be as ubiquitous as televisions or computers in households is best left to the auspices of science fiction at this point.

            As depressing as it may be, on a tech enthusiast site or not, technology isn’t the panacea to all of our problems. Goals such as meaningful or gainful employment for all included.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]how does it do this to any real degree for manufacturing?[/quote<] With the press of a button, you can copy, paste, and transport literally infinite amounts of information which used to require manufacturing and shipping massive volumes of CDs, DVDs, etc. It also makes mail basically pointless. That's really the sort of thing I was thinking of in terms of "production costs." You're talking more about services.

            • mesyn191
            • 7 years ago

            Uh where do you think these new highly technical jobs are going to come? We’re going to need tens of millions of such jobs to offset the loss of the low skill ones that are being replaced by machines, at a minimum in the US alone. Just what industry is going to produce such a mass of open positions?

            More importantly which industry will produce such openings _and_ offer a wage that is high enough to get these people out of college debt before they’re 30, hell even 40 yr of age?

            The US has actually been producing enough jobs to beat the number of births recently (anything less than 120-150K new jobs a month is actually net negative due to population growth). Unfortunately the quality of those jobs is crap and so is the pay. We’re talking low skill jobs that pay maybe $10/hr with no benefits and no job security and offer little to no opportunity to move up.

            I’m not a Luddite but we’ve got a serious problem here and no one in a position to do anything about it is even publicly acknowledging it much less doing anything about it. Our and other societies around the world are going to have to decide what to do about the increased production capacity and efficiency that robotics offers and its economic effects on the population. Hopefully it’ll be something other than “FREE MARKET MOTHERFUCKERS, ENJOY YOUR POVERTY/DITCH DEATH BED” but unfortunately that seems to be the direction things are going. That is certainly how it is being played out 3rd world countries right now.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 7 years ago

          Clearly, this is the fault of robots, despite the fact that the downtrend preceeded them.

          Boy, it sucks when the world becomes more efficient. Those darn cotton gins! We need slavery!

            • brute
            • 7 years ago

            slavery may as well be the same as automation with regard to employment.

            nice try, brosiah

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Slaves need to be fed and housed. Cotton gins don’t.

            • brute
            • 7 years ago

            machinery requires maintenance, upkeep, storage, power.

            not to mention that the slaves and gins performed different tasks. still not a good comparison.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Well gee, then why did we bother with machinery at all, or even computers? They require maintenance, upkeep, storage, and power! What a waste!

            Except they require less of it, which frees up resources for bigger and better things. Even if there’s only a minor difference, the little things add up to big improvements, the world over.

            You can play this game all day long. It doesn’t change the fact that entire industries, countries, and empires are constantly wiped out in a never ending process that has consitently made the world a better place.

            Is there really some point in the past you’d prefer to go back to?

            • brute
            • 7 years ago

            making the world a more efficient place != making the world a better place

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            Citation needed.

            • brute
            • 7 years ago

            you really don’t need a citation on a subjective statement, an opinion, do you? the source should be pretty clear.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            I’m trying, but I can’t think of something that’s more efficient than an alternative, but makes the world worse.

            The closest I can get is that some people think a dictatorship is more efficient than squabbling politicians, but dictatorships are self-destructive, not productive, which isn’t more efficient than the alternative at all.

            Similarly, it would seem more efficient on the surface to wipe out your enemies with nuclear weapons, rather than attempting to be diplomatic. But then you’d destroy a potentially productive trade partner and its resources, so nobody has ever gone quite that far.

            So you could say that nuclear weapons are efficiently destructive, and consider that to be a bad thing. But did nuclear weapons make the world worse? Well, we aren’t dead yet, even though it was possible to destroy the world for about 80 years now.

            Instead, they acted as a deterrent, and millions of people no longer die in large wars.

            I’m mostly referring to technology / capital accumulation here, but you can see that it applies in other areas, as well. And that’s because it’s virtually impossible to separate the impact of technology from any issue of today’s world.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            ak-47?

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 7 years ago

            That’s a good head scratcher, assuming you are referring to the fully automatic kind. Machine guns were proposed to stop wars, and failed. However, that was just before the advent of planes and missiles.

            So are they actually more efficient for causing harm?

            I think I’d prefer someone within my range of sight be aimlessly spraying bullets at me to be intimidating, rather than someone I can’t see putting just one bullet in my brain with a rifle.

            Consequently, most people don’t seem to want one even for self-defense purposes, or even semi-automatics with banana clips, and they were very short lived as the primary military weapon.

            Firing them into a crowd of protestors is also a good way to incite a revolution, so for purely nefarious purposes, they aren’t so hot, either.

            Potentially 1 million people were killed in the American Civil War, more Americans than in any other conflict. Unfortunately, they didn’t need machine guns for that.

            That’s pretty much in the past, but made me think about what technology parallels it today:

            Drones. Now that one is fugly.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          Is this really a problem?

          I mean if the machines can produce the food and supplies we need, why do people *have* to be employed?

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            Self-worth/esteem? I think the psychological impact of a world where people suddenly didn’t need to work to provide for themselves and loved ones would be catastrophic for many, at least at first.

            • wierdo
            • 7 years ago

            Seems to me people should be worrying less about automation and more about improving the education system, because that’s the future of a modern workforce.

            Stopping automation may just mean becoming a third world country some day, other countries are not gonna sit idly, they will continue to advance and become more efficient.

            Just go get training to do the more advanced and better paying jobs of the future, everywhere else on the planet people strive for self-improvement, we have to do the same.

            • mesyn191
            • 7 years ago

            Are you kidding me? Do you realize how many people hate their jobs and would love the economic freedom to be able to say fuck it and quit?

            Which is a good thing BTW. No one should have to work a shitty job for shitty pay. Now a shitty job for good or great pay, that is different and not something that is ruled out if we were to have a living wage and/or guaranteed minimum standard of living.

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            First of all, this is an entirely hypothetical scenario. At no time in any sort of imaginable future are we going to be able to rely on robots or other forms of automation to “do all the work”.

            Secondly, without jobs, how do you decide how to distribute wealth in a democratic style of society? Or do we mean that people would only have their most basic needs taken care of by machines and still pursue money-making initiatives otherwise. Would most people seek out some form of meaningful work (not just taking up a musical instrument or finally getting the time to make a serious attempt at writing that novel or whatever) if their base needs were taken care of? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I think if you could find a good way to incentivise this work, than fine for most. But I think you’d still have many more people just sitting around playing video games and watching TV.

            Another way to look at this might be: If people didn’t have to work (ie, had enough wealth to be perpetually comfortable enough) would they? Sure some would who loved their jobs. Many would not, regardless if this meant settling for lower wealth or status.

            And don’t just write off the whole self-esteem notion. The pride engendered through betterment of oneself/status through hard work is the cornerstone of such quaint notions as the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Dream<]American Dream[/url<], for whatever that's worth. Even though many (most?) bitch and moan about how horrible their jobs are, the fact that it serves as a means to better oneself (at least wealth-wise) and provide for one's family gives meaning to the everyday banality of it all beyond the financial reward.

            • mesyn191
            • 7 years ago

            First of all no one was saying robots would do all the work, that is a strawman for you to whack away on. We’re talking about tens of millions of jobs being eliminated due to automation, which is not some sci-fi fantasy scenario. There are already factories that exist with almost no personnel necessary to run them, google “dark factories”, they’ve been around for years.

            I’d research the Scandanavian countries if I were you and wanted a good real world example of how a decent welfare state can be made to work in a democracy and has since at least the 70’s. Neo-liberal economics is starting to be employed over there too now but it is still very possible to get by without a job and has been for decades. And those countries are much poorer over all than the US.

            BTW who cares if even a majority of the population (and I doubt this would happen, but I’m making a point here) decided to do nothing but stay at home and play video games or watch TV instead of something “productive”? And by “productive” I mean make some group of execs more money instead of, you know, something actually beneficial and meaningful to society (ie. infrastructure improvements, teaching, art, etc.). I, and I bet most Americans would agree with this, care nothing for making rich people richer. Which is pretty much all that society is doing and has been doing for at least the last 3-4 decades.

            Why do you believe a job is the only way most people can or would find self-esteem and/or better ones-self? You’re basically arguing that people are lazy and fundamentally insecure and must be forced into some sort of make-work program just so they don’t commit suicide or live out their lives on a couch. This seems to be a cynical and bizarre world view to take to say the least.

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            I suppose my post was a bit cynical. I would like to think that the average person has more meaning to their life than a “make work” job. I just don’t know if this is true. But I suppose we will never know until enough people working these mindless jobs no longer needed to – the hypothetical aspect of this hole debate.

            Theoretically, dark factories/farms requiring minimal maintenance/supervision that provide food and other essentials for human survival could be used for state welfare. But what, from the way things currently work, is there to suggest that if such factories were more ubiquitous, they would suddenly be used for such altruistic objectives? They would be used by those who made the initial investment to make more profit – rich people getting richer, just like you say yourself.

            I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about the social and economic systems that govern these Scandinavian countries. However, I think that these countries are often over-romanticized as the be-all/end-all of how to run socially-bent government (though in recent years, largely due to the 2009 mortgage crisis and events leading up to it, they have perhaps come across as more fiscally stable than the US economy). They are eking by with their current socialist models on sky-high tax rates and living costs (You think living in Manhattan is expensive? Try Copenhagen). This makes it very hard to gain any reward by working harder (ie, striving for a job with more responsibility and better pay). [url=http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/510<]See this old article[/url<] for more on why the Scandinavian model isn't maybe all that it's cracked up to be. Furthermore, the geographically small, relatively population-dense Scandinavian countries, by these virtues, can be more efficient, especially in areas such as public transportation and distribution of resources. For example, in countries like the USA and Canada, people are much more dependent on oil for personal transportation. This is no small cost either, as ownership and operation (fuel, etc) of vehicle(s) needed for transportation is often a significant proportion of a lower-income family's expenses in the USA... I'll admit that I was sounding a bit pessimistic implying that many/most wouldn't work/contribute if they didn't have to. But history has taught that human achievement thrives in response to necessity, and failing that, incentive of personal gain (ie, look how well communism worked for the average joe during the time of the USSR - when such incentives were removed). In our modern world, if you're not worrying about surviving to your next meal, incentives usually come in monetary form. It would be nice if people didn't idolize money and/or the associated status/power in favor of more selfless aspirations, but most people don't. How do you "educate" people to, on the whole, care more about, say, the quality of education for someone else's child than whether or not they can afford a new luxury car - or whatever - after next year's Christmas bonus? And as long as this continues the rich will always get richer by exploiting whomever they can (in addition to putting in a lot of hard work in many cases). There are always exceptions - people who are drawn to altruistic pursuits or artists sufficiently consumed by the creative spirit to make it a life-long commitment... However, I think our society (maybe the US in particular) is so conditioned to respond to monetary incentives, a large proportion really would cease to have sufficient motivation to contribute if this was no longer part of the equation.

            • mesyn191
            • 7 years ago

            Essentially most of what you wrote boils down to “its like this right now so therefore it must always be like this in the future” and “what works elsewhere can’t possibly ever work here” with some good ‘ol neo-liberal talking points sprinkled in.

            For instance talking about the size difference and population density of the US vs. other countries also doesn’t make any sense and betrays your ignorance of the subject as well. Factories are usually built right next to railways or major ports for a reason in the US. They’re also already building the dark factories here in the US and they’re already profitable and they have been for years. There is no hypothetical scenario, this is actually happening.

            You can see it playing out in how the manufacturing jobs in the US have been on a steady decline since WWII:
            [url<]http://i.imgur.com/NpKH2.png[/url<] yet the US is still one of the top manufacturer's in the world: [url<]http://i.imgur.com/diXpB.jpg[/url<] Your linked article is also amazingly terrible since its using the bubble years of 2005 or so in the most bubbly of the EU countries to make its comparison to the Scandinavian countries. It reeks of "1st thing I could google up". Also the rich are getting richer by means of what is known as "control fraud", not because everyone else non-rich is a hapless dupe unable to think beyond their own means/wants/needs. If you want to google some stuff go and google the Mondragon Corp. or spend some time reading up on the TVA and the New Deal for some ideas on how things can be made to work outside of a neo-liberal framework. tl&dr: You have made a bad post and you should feel bad for posting it.

            • mesyn191
            • 7 years ago

            They don’t.

            At least not in a vaguely moral and equitable society. But that is not the society we have.

            There are vast numbers of people today still in the US and can’t support themselves due to a lack of work or living wages and require government assistance just to not starve. These people are demonized as “welfare queens” by certain politicians routinely and there is unfortunately a pretty large chunk of the population who completely believes all the nonsense the politicians spout as gospel truth and vote accordingly.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            Yes, I was speaking purely in sci-fi hypothetical land, not in reality. Still, I think it’s a question that should be asked.

            • mesyn191
            • 7 years ago

            Hoped so but I felt I had to answer anyways since lots of people don’t seem to think of that answer at all unfortunately.

            Thanks for asking it though. ;D

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      “Given the current rate of automation in the realm of agricultural production, I predict that we will all be unemployed in the year of our Lord nineteen-hundred-and-fifty”
      — Jdaven’s great-great grandfather.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        In before someone invents a hypothetical scenario where food prices continue rising and become more expensive than what low paying jobs can afford:

        [url<]http://inhabitat.com/live-share-grow-vertical-farm-could-produce-10-of-san-diegos-produce/[/url<] [url<]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroponics[/url<] We all win here.

          • mesyn191
          • 7 years ago

          Over 47 million Americans are on food stamps right now, in the midst of a “recovery” that has been going on for over 2 yr now FYI.

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            The profits of corporations and incomes of the rich have already recovered. The “47%” (excluding the uber-rich that don’t pay taxes) won’t recover, ever. This is the new normal.

      • sschaem
      • 7 years ago

      Until robots makes robots you are fine…

      The problem is not that, we human, manufacture robots to build better & more reliable products, the problem is that people can stop multiplying. Its our biggest disease.

      99% of our problem are caused by breeders. We could all drive 1 MPG mega SUV , but not when we have 7 billion of ‘worthless’ human fighting for a better meal.

      In conclusion : We need more robots, not more humans.

    • tanker27
    • 7 years ago

    bah…..Cook said in a interview “a Apple line” would be moving to the U.S. He didnt say which one. I can bet its not going to be the iPhone.

    My theory, is that it is going to be the worst kept secret, that its going be the Apple TV product.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      It’s pretty obvious with the “Made in the USA” stamps on the new iMacs that it will be the iMac line (perhaps the Mac Pro line too).

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        Mac Pro is probably most likely…that’s basically assembling a PC from already manufactured parts.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Plus it only gets updated like once a decade now, so any changes to machinery will be depreciated over a longer time period.

            • tanker27
            • 7 years ago

            I forgot About the Pro line…….I still stand by my theory though, If you saw the interview this past week Cook was like a school girl when he talked about the Television industry and that something needed to be done.

            Besides the current Apple Tv box is just a nitch market but every time I turn it on there’s something new. So they are trying things out.

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]assembly costs for the iPhone 5, which is manufactured in China, added up to around $8 as of September.[/quote<] Yeah, considering wages, taxes, and any benefits, those jobs are never coming to the US.

      • JDZZL
      • 7 years ago

      i’d like to see the price comparison of cost of assembly if China were on par with the US on human rights, pollution laws and labor practices.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        US rights and pollution? Wow, you really set the bar high!

        It’s fun to pretend that protectionist “regulations” intended to block out competitors by driving up the cost of entry are really about protecting you.

        Monsanto thanks you for your support!

      • hoboGeek
      • 7 years ago

      I agree, not “those” jobs.
      But they are talking about automating them. It will be even cheaper than that… Even if there will be a few people working there.

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        On the bright side, the workers who DO end up in the plant will be fairly high skill I imagine. Supervising, machine repair, inspections, etc. The actual assembly is fairly low-skill, which is why the cheap wages in countries like China are so appealing.

        Regardless, should be nice for the people who do land jobs in the plant.

          • mesyn191
          • 7 years ago

          All 30 or 40 of them. That’ll probably include the janitorial staff too BTW.

          These “dark factories” are net negative for labor earnings and the economy. That is why they’re used of course. No one would bother with them if they actually created positions that ended up costing the company more instead of less money.

      • nafhan
      • 7 years ago

      Actually, the US is a good place to have a highly automated factory. As it’s a great place to hire skilled professionals.

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that this type of move could actually be saving Apple money. Replacing 100’s of (relatively) mistake prone laborers with robots and a small number of maintainers could be a good thing for them. It’s also possible that this is just a PR move, though. They can certainly afford it.

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        I did post an agreement comment on high-skill jobs above 😛

        Saving money depends on what device we’re talking about, though. Something larger like a Mac Pro or iMac is definitely good for some machines or machine-assisted processes. An iPhone might be a different story, because even if you’re talking about mistake prone laborers, the real replacement could be a precision machine, which ain’t cheap by any stretch. On top of that, a complex machine will require at least one high-skill worker to keep it calibrated and working at all times. Even if a human is mistake-prone, they have the ability to adjust when they see something off, all without fancy sensors.

        • NeelyCam
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]It's also possible that this is just a PR move, though. They can certainly afford it.[/quote<] I agree - the plant will only cost Apple 100mil. That's cheap PR in Apple's world. Not having to ship stuff from China may help with cost a little bit, but even if they don't save any money, Apple has other good reasons to do this.. like reducing leaks on their products, and better immunity against ITC complaints

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]those jobs are never coming to the US.[/quote<] Sadly, this is true. Automation will improve efficiency and quality, and help corporations make bigger profits, but how are the people who rely on jobs going to put food on the table? I don't think this "tax cut for job creators" thingy is working... it seems to just make the wealth trickle up even more.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 7 years ago

        I think you are being too quick to discount that better technology is actually “bad” for unfairly privleged producers, and a blessing for consumers. Driving production costs down levels the playing field, circumventing protectionist politics.

        For example, if Apple keeps this game up, sooner or later, people will start wondering why a robot iPhone is $500 and some other company’s robot phone is $5.

        Today, this is almost a reality in China, and they haven’t even made it to full automation yet. They have $20 tablets, and yet, we flip out when one here goes for $200.

        Yes, Apple is sitting on piles of cash and they don’t even know how they might invest it. But they’re going to need it for a rainy day fund.

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