Apple Foxconn Labor

Much was commented this week about Apple’s China factories where American’s favorite phone and tablet computers are made.

Being from a developing country myself, I was surprised to see such a big deal made about this “differing” labor practice in such countries when compared to Developed Countries’ practices.

First, because when you compare absolute numbers instead of relative (%), statistics can scare or impress anyone. Take the $1.78 hourly wage and the board figure of $17 a month for example:

$1.78/hr x 40hrs a week x 4 weeks comes to about = $284.8/mo income.

$17 for room for what pretty much looked like my dorm room at University of Tampa, a private university.

$0.70/meal x 90 meals a month = $63/mo for board.

This leaves $204 = 72% of disposable income. My wife has about 50% disposable income (after room and board) and she is the Marketing Director for a private company in Honduras!

When you add to this the fact that this kind of job is a temp job where these Chinese teens will remain for about 3 years to save up as well as gain experience and then move on to bigger and better things, the picture clears up considerably. It’s the equivalent of a job at McDonalds or Burger King! Who in America working at McD’s can tout 72% disposable income!?

Second, because thats how many of American’s consumer products get made: Walmart clothing from the Caribbean & Central America, Dunkin Donuts sugar from Asia, Starbucks Coffee from South America etc. the list goes on and on.

I’m not suggesting there is no room for improvement, but it’s no reason for alarm. If you want to be alarmed, check out factories in countries like Malaysia or Honduras where big companies with solid Social Responsibility Programs like Apple don’t go near!

Facebook: Worldwide Genetic Experiment

Facebook Genetic Experiment
Facebook Genetic Experiment

What does the biggest social network share with the most global science field?

Does the most complex web software have anything to do with one of the most complex fields in human nature?

Is Facebook the world’s largest human genetic experiment?

What do you get when you mount a huge amount of human relational information onto the largest, most accessible data depot in the world?  Ill tell you what you get…the biggest artificial intelligence in the world (since we are not sure about the universe’s size or the possibility of coexisting multiverse’s).

Lets think about what Facebook contains.  On a personal level, it contains:

  1. Your name, face and personal likes and dislikes.
  2. Your family’s names, faces and personal preferences as well.
  3. Your friends’ names, appearance and their preferences.

If you consider that each one of those persons is capable, not only of posting information but also verifying each other’s information and even reproducing in order to create more and more “persons”…You have the biggest genetic tree in the world.  This genetic tree doesn’t only have names, but each name has preferences and dislikes, images and moments, work and private information.

Think how much that information is worth to pharmaceutical companies?  Facebook may be worth more for the information it contains in its data centers than for its advertising revenue!  If Facebook’s highly desirable IPO was poised to skyrocket before, get ready to factor this into it.

PSYCHOLOGY

How much more input do we receive nowadays about, let’s say, how to properly raise a child?  How to properly treat a cold?  What’s the best way to motivate your employees?

Back in the day, we only got input from 2 or 3 close friends and our parents or siblings.  Today we get true, honest advice from 200 friends on at least one topic.  Sometimes, depending on how your Facebook account is setup (I don’t allow others to see or post on my posts if they are not strictly my friends – but some people do), we can get 100’s if not 1000’s of comments about a topic.

Power Hungry Devices

Its funny how capitalism leads to consumerism and that it turn, in a free democratic society, is fueled by our “NEED” for more and more services.  What this translates to is the fact that we want more and more “things” which we request from our technology.  So everyday we come up with things we want our phone to do for us.  First, the beeper simply sent us text messages for us to get to a landline and call.  Then it allowed us to answer text messages.  Soon after came the cellular phone and we didn’t have to go to a landline, we could simply call on the mobile phone.  But then we realized we had too many friends and so we asked for speed dial.  Then we realized it would be good to keep certain info of those contacts on the device so we got Address Books for quick and easy access.  As computers matured, we got more computer like functionality such as calculators, cameras and other such features on our mobiles.  Once the internet came of age, we demanded internet service on the phones which as the internet itself evolved, that internet-like functionality of mobile phones has gotten more complex.  Yet we are still disappointed by the fact that our battery now lasts half as much as it did back then, when mobile phones were nothing more than a couple of “stringless” cans!

I just came across this article; http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/27/apple-iphone-4s-battery-life-suck-less/ where users are complaining about battery life on the latest iPhone 4S.  The funny thing is that the very technology which has made us impatient and insatiable with response-time to our user requests, the internet and its related technologies such as computers, is the one responsible for our disappointment in how that technology behaves.

Yet the answer does not lie in that industry, for the infamous portable energy problem has affected so many other industries that have been unable to find a better solution for it.  Moreover, the portable energy problem is what shaped humanity as we know it today.  Think about it, since the nomads roamed the earth, their whole purpose in life was to follow a moving source of energy, food!  They decided to settle down and start building a more stable homestead but they soon learned that home had to be near some sort of energy depot, which is why most main cities are built near rivers or ports.  So we settled for quite some time and were happy having done so.  Nowadays we find ourselves roaming again but this time we want to take our energy sources with us instead of following them around.

It has been quite some time since so many other industries have tried to solve this problem:

1) Airplanes need weightless and endless fuel to travel longer without the weight of the fuel itself to bog them down.

2) Space travel is limited because such a powerful fuel source contained in a small enough space is non-existent or non-portable.

3) Solar power can sure be harnessed but not stored in any one container enough to power houses reasonably.

4) Our own bodies still need to eat 2 to 3 times a day if not more.

5) And now our phones which prove to become evermore complex, need the lightest and longest lasting energy source.

 

Can the mobile communications industry be the drop that will spill the idea jar on how to solve this problem?