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Countries that Are Most Highly Invested in Automation (ifr.org) 57

A report by the International Federation of Robotics looks at the countries that are most highly invested in manufacturing automation. The countries with the ten highest densities of robots are, in order: South Korea (631 per 10,000 workers), Singapore (488), Germany (309), Japan (303), Sweden (223), Denmark (211), United States (189), Italy (185), Belgium (184), and Taiwan (177). Overall, the automation of production is accelerating around the world: 74 robot units per 10,000 employees (up from 66 in 2015) is the new average of global robot density in the manufacturing industries.
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Countries that Are Most Highly Invested in Automation

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Note because it's not mentioned in the summary: this report is only regarding manufacturing automation.

  • make America meh again

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      We're a nation of specialists: scientists, engineers, programmers, etc. This means our manufacturing is heavily weighted toward bleeding-edge technologies which are very difficult to automate because they have complex construction and assembly, are relatively new, and are quickly replaced by newer versions. Our tool manufacturing is mostly automated already, but things like HPLC machines, DNA sequencers and such are high price low volume devices which have major overhauls in their design on an annual basi
      • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:39PM (#56117525)

        It is a shame then that we are not a well educated nation. Try sorting this this chart [wikipedia.org] by various age cohorts. When it comes to tertiary ("college") education the U.S. is current ranked 7th overall. Not good for a nation of "specialists". But it gets worse. The oldest cohort, nearing retirement is 4th internationally. But the youngest is 12th, and since the ranking gets worse as you get younger, and all signs point to a continuing deterioration in support for higher education, we can expect it to be much worse, rather than better of even the same in another 10 years.

        • But i'd be willing to bet we're absolutely in a league of our own when it comes to debt for graduates.

          USA USA USA!

          • Paying for college is a scam to help strain the idiots such that the non-idiots have more relative advantage. It's a part of what makes us great. There are plenty of ways to get free college, or at least to come out of it with a degree that actually pays. All the best people are self-educated anyway, college as a degree system exists so rich people can weed out the moderately talented poor people from the untalented poor people without having to get to know them.
        • ...But it gets worse. The oldest cohort, nearing retirement is 4th internationally. But the youngest is 12th, and since the ranking gets worse as you get younger, and all signs point to a continuing deterioration in support for higher education, we can expect it to be much worse, rather than better of even the same in another 10 years.

          When you say "continuing deterioration", are you referring to college graduates who can't find a decent job due to "entry-level" positions requiring a decade of experience? Or the fact that a college degree now creates crippling debt with questionable value-add? Or is it perhaps the government tightening down on federal student loans after amassing a trillion or two of outstanding debt?

          Just trying to understand what is really contributing to this deterioration. Might as well add "$100K Masters degree" to

      • I do not understand. 3D printing of details and assembly of any number of complex details is very close. It does not matter how innovative your Next N3xt Generation Sequencer is.

  • Unemployment rate in South Korea [tradingeconomics.com] is pretty low. Cue the UBI crowd coming to yell about the sky falling, but eh.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unemployment rate in South Korea [tradingeconomics.com] is pretty low. Cue the UBI crowd coming to yell about the sky falling, but eh.

      Tip of the iceberg. Cue the head-in-ass crowd who will dismiss the impact until they're standing in the unemployment line.

  • Is one robot worth 100 workers? If so the 631 to 10,000 number seems significant.

    • It's significant, but not in the way most people seem to think - that it means 100 people lose their jobs. Most of those people find other work.

      If one robot is worth 100 workers, then it means automating your entire workforce would increase the standard of living by 100x. That's such a huge increase that all sorts of welfare and UBI programs which are currently mathematically unsustainable (without amassing debt), becomes roundoff error. And the Star Trek economic utopia becomes reality.
      • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:42PM (#56117539) Homepage Journal

        If one robot is worth 100 workers, then it means automating your entire workforce would increase the standard of living by 100x.

        Only if your entire workforce keeps working. Technology increases the output of human labor (the only cost). To increase the output of human labor by 100 times, you create technology whereby the effort of 1 human labor hour produces the same output as previously requiring 100 human labor hours.

        If you make a machine which runs itself and keeps running without maintenance or other human input (like fuel), it's incurring no cost. If it runs forever, the output is infinite. On the other hand, if it costs 1,000 human labor hours to make it, it replaces 10 human labor hour per thousand hours of run time, and it runs for one hundred thousand hours, you're breaking even. Think about solar street lights with LED bulbs.

        That's such a huge increase that all sorts of welfare and UBI programs which are currently mathematically unsustainable (without amassing debt), becomes roundoff error.

        Actually, we can do that today [google.com], without raising taxes. Add in healthcare and the blunt plans there are something like a 0.9% tax cut on the rich, and no corporate tax increases; although you need to do a little adjustment there (see further down). The Dividend isn't really a UBI, but something new--related, though.

        I shoved the payroll tax for retirement and disability benefits up to the top tax bracket and got 43.7% instead of 39.6%, along with a bit of a mess along the way for effective tax rate in total. The ETR is higher in 2016 at $50,000, in that model; that changes rapidly, moving upwards and narrowing the gap between 2016 tax policy (ignore the TCJA; I'm repealing that) and the model. You can repair it in 2016 by raising the top tax rate in total to 45% and adjusting the income tax brackets to be more progressive--really a crucial step to clean up the mess I've made in all this restructuring.

        With OASDI staying on payrolls, two things happen. First, payroll taxes get backshifted into wages, so you don't get the wage boost (or price cut, depending on who you ask and how you look at it long-term) and employment increase (always) of reducing the cost of employing people. Second, you have that 0.9% tax cut on the top income earners, which you can reclaim to help fix the slight increase in ETR. By 2022 (earliest this can actually happen--Trump will veto), you can have that scenario without actually raising anyone's taxes.

        So... Dividend alone: no homelessness, no hunger, increases available jobs (probably full employment?), decreases cost of welfare (make people less-poor), trivial to pull off without increasing taxes in 2016. With universal healthcare: A little tougher to do without tax increases in total on someone, although probably can pull it off in 2022. Shunt OASDI payments entirely onto the rich: likely 45% top tax rate instead of 39.6%, higher wages at the low end, and lower unemployment (if we're not hitting permanent full employment already).

        This plan practically requires cutting working hours to avoid a labor shortage. I'm looking for a 7-hour work day or a 4-day work week.

        • So... Dividend alone: no homelessness, no hunger, increases available jobs (probably full employment?), decreases cost of welfare (make people less-poor), trivial to pull off without increasing taxes in 2016.

          There are a lot of people who don't care how the homeless are treated. There are a small number of people that care but in the wrong way, they get really upset if someone didn't "earn" everything. The idea that homeless would be given free money or free houses really triggers these types and turns them into a base of useful idiot voters. (useful because they are a mob driven by emotion)

          • it's ironic that these are the same people (typically) who have zero problems with the insane amount of corporate welfare that defense contractors get every year.

            It's like if you see someone buying soda/junk food with an EBT card, it's the worst thing ever, and that person needs to be put in a special camp. But pissing away trillions on a newfangled fighter-jet that will likely never see real combat, that's okay, keep america strong and stuff.

          • Oh I know. I think I can push back against that well enough, though. The real trouble is this shoves like $7,500/year down the pipe, not something like $300 per person. People might accept something small, but something so large will freak them out.

            Here's the thing: the Dividend also provides the minimum wage measure--yes, I'm fighting a war on multiple fronts here. Whenever the Dividend goes up such that full-time minimum wage is less than 2x the annual Dividend, I push minimum wage up to match. T

    • by Eloking ( 877834 )

      Is one robot worth 100 workers? If so the 631 to 10,000 number seems significant.

      My field is robotic and in the few dozen robot I've installed, none goes even near that 100 worker equivalent.

      At best, at very best a robot barely replace 9 workers (3 worker, 3 shift a day). But it's usually more 1-2.

      • Is one robot worth 100 workers? If so the 631 to 10,000 number seems significant.

        My field is robotic and in the few dozen robot I've installed, none goes even near that 100 worker equivalent.

        At best, at very best a robot barely replace 9 workers (3 worker, 3 shift a day). But it's usually more 1-2.

        I think you're failing to take into account the benefits in certain scenarios. Aside from the fact a robot will not become sick, slow down, need maternity leave, workmans comp, disability, FMLA, or create a risk of a sexual harassment lawsuit (yeah, that last one can be very costly), the largest benefit automation can bring is for that shop that could only afford to run 8x5 before automation. After implementing automation they can run 24x7. In those situations that is a rather massive increase in overall

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        I think that depends on ability to scale. Here in Norway I saw the stats for a big robot warehouse, they picked 5.1 million items in a year with 55 robots. That's ~93k per robot, here in Norway we usually budget around 1750 hours/year. So that's 53 items per human-equivalent hour, right now it's just tens of thousands of stacked boxes but for humans it'd have to be miles and miles of shelf space. And robots don't misplace or pick the wrong box, they don't steal stuff, they don't drop stuff, they don't goof

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      A definite point, and since this is about manufacturing work, a significant one that's unanswerable.

      For some jobs a robot can be worth 100,000 workers. For many others worth less than one. E.g., how many workers do you think it would take to replace an automated crane that can lift 5 tons 5 stories in half an hour? But generally an automated crane wouldn't be able to do anything else...or at least not much else.

  • Definition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:09PM (#56117293) Homepage

    What is the definition of a "robot" here? Is it something that is more human or animal oriented? I'm sitting right next to a printer, which replaced a type writer. They are functionally the same, press ink into paper in specific patterns. Because it isn't a large mechanical beast pressing down keys to apply lettered ink to paper, is it no longer in the classification of a "robot", even though it uses mechanical gears to move the paper and print head around? This could be applied to all sorts of computerized mechanical devices all around us now. Where is the line drawn to build these stats? And as such, then the stats could easily be swayed larger or smaller to fit a given narrative that one wants to persuade the reader to.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Assembly line robots, doing the job a human used to do.

      • That doesn't answer the question. Is one robot arm a robot? What about one with a welding attachment and another one with something else at the same station running off a common program? It's probably more meaningful to estimate capital cost or maintenance cost vs human salary, but that would count less sexy capital equipment like CNCs and automatic canning machines, so you won't be able to have the click-baity headling about the robots putting us all out of work.

        TLDR version: industrial increases producti
    • Did you skim the summary and miss the word manufacturing? Your HP deskjet is not involved in manufacturing.

      Another key word would be "automation". Meaning, a task that used to be done by a human, is no longer done by a human. Car painting robot is a valid example.

    • by Eloking ( 877834 )

      If our field, we consider "Robot" machine that have been created to replace human manual labor independently (so an excavator isn't a robot). As for a printer, it's a machine since it doesn't replace manual labor. It replace a task, not a worker.

      The best example of robot are "Industrial Robot" and this article talk about those robot.

  • by Eloking ( 877834 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @03:24PM (#56117379)

    Robotic engineering is my field and I'm sure a lot, even here in /., still feel threatened by the rise of robots. You know, the "Robot will take our job and kill us all" mojo.

    First, don't forget that mondialisation have cut a lot, LOT more occident job than robot. I'm sure everyone here know someone whose job have been lost after the plant have been relocated in China. In fact, the way I see it, robotisation will help to bring back more job lost to the chinese that we'll lose.

    Second, robot "can't" do everything (well, not yet). Most industrial robot application are still hightly repetitive (read "boring") manual task. There's a lot of our customer that need to bring people from other countries because Millennials doesn't want to do them.

    Third, robot still need worker. I had that plant where all riveting were done by employees with big machineries. Because of poor ergonomy and all the vibration, most workers had a lot of back pain problems avec a few dozens years. They were pissed to see us at first, but now everyone want his own robot so he can sit down and listen to the radio while he monitor the robot work. Futhermore, robot operator have higher salary than a simple manufacture worker.

    Of course, I know I'm indirectly responsible that some people lost their jobs. There's that new contrat we just got where I met with my boss to share my concern that our client want the robots to fire a few people even if he say he won't. It's part of the job and I live with it thinking that I bringing more good than bad for the society.

    • We need social programs for the transitional unemployment. It will go away, but we need to carry these people who are caught in the path of progress. It's a complex economic topic.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Do you distinguish between a robot and an automated tool?
      What's you're definition? I often see the term robot used in a context where telefactor would be more appropriate.
      What distinction do you make between a robot and a numerically controlled tool?

      To me a robot must have significant intelligence. Not just internal logic, but actual situational evaluation. Behavior that has been called "Sphexish" (like that of a particular wasp) doesn't qualify as intelligence, as it appears to be all preprogrammed resp

      • by Eloking ( 877834 )

        Do you distinguish between a robot and an automated tool?
        What's you're definition? I often see the term robot used in a context where telefactor would be more appropriate.
        What distinction do you make between a robot and a numerically controlled tool?

        To me a robot must have significant intelligence. Not just internal logic, but actual situational evaluation. Behavior that has been called "Sphexish" (like that of a particular wasp) doesn't qualify as intelligence, as it appears to be all preprogrammed responses to situational cues. (In another place I argue that this kind of thing is minimally intelligent, and I'll stand by that, but the emphasis is on minimal.)

        If a robot need to have significant intelligence (ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills) as you said, then robot haven't been created yet.

        If our field, we consider "Robot" machine that have been created to replace human manual labor independently (so an excavator isn't a robot). That also mean that, in my opinion, most android aren't robot.

        The best example of robot are "Industrial Robot" or "Robot Arm" and this article talk about those robot.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          So would you consider an autonomous fork-lift a robot?
          If I understand you correctly, the answer is yes. And also a self-driving car, even if it's legally required to carry an official "driver"?

          I think of those as actual robots, albeit primitive ones. And the robot car, at least, is required to have "actual situational evaluation". The fork-lift might not be except for things like bumper guards, which can be "pre-scripted", but only if it is restricted to operating in an extremely simplified environment.

  • And I was happy to increase productivity by 50% with a 30-row perl-script, more code to the corporations.

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