A Spiritual Life, the Co-operative Business Model, Green Business, NGOs, the World Social Forum, Solidarity Economics, and Scandanavian pro-Labor Social Democracy are among existing practices which offer an alternative to the prevailing destructive corporate and campaign finance models. Here, I invite people to explore Grassroots Sustainability and Social Responsibility through Social and Ecological Political Economics.
The spiritual basis of this discussion is essential.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Robot Labor vs. China. And the Co-ops?
A recent article on a solar farm in Spain, and on robots used on solar plants by a US firm reminded me of this article. In this kind of ideological economic system, we need protectionist policies to slow down the mania and allow a scientific, and humanistic, approach support a social democratic and co-operativst economic ideology. Well, while there are food co-ops selling organic food and buying wind power, solar co-ops in the US, and wind co-ops in Denmark, Germany, and the UK, and perhaps elsewhere, it's clear that the Corporate-Techno system will keep going full steam ahead. Ah, the upheavals ahead will be spectacular....
the Netherlands — At the Philips Electronics factory on the coast
of China, hundreds of workers use their hands and specialized tools
to assemble electric shavers. That is the old way.
a sister factory here in the Dutch countryside,
128 robot arms do the same work with yoga-like flexibility. Video
cameras guide them through feats well beyond the capability of the
most dexterous human.
robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires
and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The
arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to
prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do
it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a
told, the factory here has several dozen workers per shift, about a
tenth as many as the plant in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.
is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now
commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are
replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and
distribution. Factories like the one here in the Netherlands are a
striking counterpoint to those used by Apple and
other consumer electronics giants, which employ hundreds of thousands
of low-skilled workers.
these machines, we can make any consumer device in the world,” said
Binne Visser, an electrical engineer who manages the Philips assembly
line in Drachten.
industry executives and technology experts say Philips’s approach
is gaining ground on Apple’s. Even as Foxconn,
Apple’s iPhone manufacturer,
continues to build new plants and hire thousands of additional
workers to make smartphones, it plans to install more than a million
robots within a few years to supplement its work force in China.
has not disclosed how many workers will be displaced or when. But its
chairman, Terry Gou, has publicly endorsed a growing use of robots.
Speaking of his more than one million employees worldwide, he said in
January, according to the official Xinhua news agency: “As human
beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a
falling costs and growing sophistication of robots have touched off a
renewed debate among economists and technologists over how quickly
jobs will be lost. This year, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee,
economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the
case for a rapid transformation. “The pace and scale of this
encroachment into human skills is relatively recent and has profound
economic implications,” they wrote in their book, “Race
Against the Machine.”