“It should be that in five years, the roots will take over 30 percent of the manpower,” Gou told shareholders this week. Reports earlier in the year indicted that Gou expected 70 percent of assembly line work around 2018, which would likely have had a huge impact on jobs for many of the million employees at Foxconn’s factories.
Instead, it looks like Foxconn will be relying on humans for most of its assembly line work for several years, and will likely retain many human workers after they are replaced by the so-called “Foxbots.” The Chinese company, which manufactures electronics for Apple, HP, and other U.S. electronics giants, expects to move workers to “higher-grade work,” Gou said, as the machines take over easy, boring tasks. Foxconn has been looking to expand its business on other continents and customers, so new, more complex jobs for human workers seems possible.
Hopefully, Gou will be paying workers more for the higher-grade work he envisions.
Of course, all this worry about when Foxconn’s factories will be completely automated may be irrelevant. If Steve Wozniak is right, we may all be pets for computers with artificial intelligence someday, anyway.