The economy is changing. Automation is accelerating in its assimilation of work currently done by human hands, and software similarly moves swiftly to take work from human minds. Political activity intended to react productively to these changes are already producing unintended bad effects, such as contributing to the acceleration.
What this means is that, unlike previous episodes where technological changes had only temporary displacement effects on the population. Past episodes created as much human work as it destroyed, and often work of a sort that overall improved the quality of the population. This is not the case now. The displacements will be permanent, and those with eyes to see know what is coming.
There are two reasons. The first is simple to comprehend: the assimilation of work out of human hands and minds happens faster than new work for the displaced workers can manifest, such that it too will be swiftly subsumed. The second is equally simple: the quality of human workers is not equal across the board, nor it is that changeable.
The result is easy to predict. The underclass will swell as the working class and middle class gets culls in the name of business efficiency, and when the public institutions follow suit the majority of the "benign" parasite class will also be cast out. Human beings, in terms of work, are disposable, expendable, and fungible. If they can be replaced with more reliable and loyal automatons, they will.
I've said for years now that this trend, if not arrested and put into check, will bifurcate Mankind into two unequal groups:
I am not saying that an Artificial Intelligence (Skynet) will arise to attempt to kill we in the majority to be discarded. I'm saying that, rather than do the Soylent Green route, those who find this desirable will resort to increasingly open genocidal warfare while they retreat as fast as they can (orbit or underground, or both) to prepared positions of safety to ride it out.
This small would-be global master class will rely heavily on automation to do this job, in addition to using existing fracture lines to get us slaughtering each other first. It is this existing weakness, born of human nature as a nationalist--even tribalist--species, that would allow this to happen.
Why? Because economic weakness produces times of scarcity, and once formerly-plentiful resources begin to dry up those who notice it first tend to react by resorting to warfare to secure what remains as best they can. The scenario I see play out, if this goes on, inter-ethnic warfare that accelerates as the economy weakens. Governments use the military and security services to control it, but the men taking the hits begin to refuse orders; this accelerates automation of state violence, and soon Hunter-Killers are the norm.
Once that happens, and a few potent attacks on the Internet or the power grid bring major cities to chaos for a few weeks, the conditions for the rest of the elements to take their place on the stage will arise and the transition to a world where the issue of most people being irrelevant due to have no economic justification for their existence being solved by extermination will occur.