Monday, May 2, 2011

Chinese Factories Make Workers Promise Not To Kill Themselves

Workers in the miserable Chinese factories with embarrassingly high suicide rates are being made to sign "suicide contracts" agreeing that they won't commit suicide, and that their families will get only minimal damages if they do.

Lots of folks in these factories want to commit suicide, and it's easy to understand why, especially with a basic understanding of the causes of suicide (that is, failed social belonging and perceived burdensomeness). Workers may not talk to each other, stand for 12-hour shifts, work for subsistence wages, and must work upwards of 40 hours of overtime a week, which breaks even the minimal worker treatment laws in freaking CHINA. "Badly performing workers were humiliated in front of colleagues," says the article ominously.

Conditions at the factories seem basically designed to create the "subsistence conditions" Robin Hanson imagines for his "ems" - conscious AI human brain emulators that must work to pay for their existence, competing against ever-more-efficient creatures being created all the time.

But Robin Hanson seems sure his em-creatures will be fine. Apparently, American middle- and upper-class workaholics are a better model for them than Chinese iPhone factory workers.

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