Jobs always have been replaced. Were people in the past concerned about how technology might deprive them of their jobs?

To make the question less broad: Were people at the time of the industrial revolution in Europe as apprehensive about automation as they are today?

Example from NY times (April 1963):

Fallacies and Facts About Automation; Like 'abolition,' like 'prohibition,' the word is one that sparks great controversy. An expert tries to sort out the truth about it. Automation: Fallacies And Facts

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    Is the hype bigger than ever - almost certainly, the world's population is larger, the number of people affected is larger and, thanks to technology, the volume of sources for hype (newspapers, radio, TV, social media) is far larger and more pervasive. So judging purely on scale probably isn't useful in comparing now with the past.
    – Steve Bird
    Dec 3 '17 at 13:35
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    Whilst some visionaries were able to see the potential of technology to create social change, the possibility is much more concrete now - artifical intelligence and robotics are on the horizon - so its not surprising that there is a great deal of hype. Dec 3 '17 at 13:38
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    Not sure this is a history question. I won't VtC because there is an answer, but this question is asking for commentary on today. I'd be more comfortable if it were phrased in terms of history.
    – MCW
    Dec 3 '17 at 21:59
  • I've edited this question to try to make it more focused on history and less opinion-based. KorvinStarmast's answer is, I believe, evidence that this is basically a valid question for this site. Dec 4 '17 at 0:02

Not new: the simplest previous example is related to the Luddite movement in the early industrial revolution era

As the industrial revolution grew in its influence, the threat to jobs among textile workers evoked a response to the point that some workers rose up and destroyed factory equipment (the advancing technology that was displacing their labor).

Over time, however, the term {Luddite} has come to mean one opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation or new technologies in general. The Luddite movement began in Nottingham and culminated in a region-wide rebellion that lasted from 1811 to 1816. Mill owners took to shooting protesters and eventually the movement was suppressed with military force.

An agricultural variant of Luddism, centering on the breaking of threshing machines, occurred during the widespread Swing Riots of 1830 in southern and eastern England.

There is a decent summary of this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite, and numerous books have been published about this phenomenon. (When I was taking classes for a master's degree in management thirty years ago, this very issue and its relationship to unions and collective actions by labor were a mini course within the course I was taking on modern labor relations).

It is worth noting that by the late 19th century, as the rise of the labor movement coincided with the spread of the industrial revolution, the ability to form a social/political organization to oppose the problems of those in the laboring classes made possible a different form of reaction to the social problems that technology brought with it: the strike, and a variety of other labor action that takes us somewhat outside of the scope of your question.


The word 'sabotage' comes from the act of throwing a clog in a machine, to make it malfunction/destroy it. So yes, people in the early industrial age were not at all happy being replaced by machines.

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