Prior to industrialism, the word was mostly on the feudal system. Nobles owned lands, and manors, ruling the citizenry that lived with them. The serfs mostly supported the household as farmers, blacksmiths, troops, etc. There wasn’t a concept of specific jobs, just pull your weight somehow. However, surpluses of crops or other resources would be traded in other villagers to get new supplies.
When industrialism first came about, water wheels and steam engines were the power sources empowering workers to be more productive. With water powering it, the mill could turn more grain into flour than any worker had in history. The result was an abundance of flour with the mill producing excesses, allowing more to be used to trade for other resources not locally available.
The system created an opportunity for a serf to build a mill on the water, create an outsized contribution through his industrial system, and start to generate “wealth” for himself. That’s the story of the empowerment of technology.
Of course, there are always temporary disruptions. For example, as more people build mills, there is a rising cost to getting into the industry. Rather than needing just a grinding stone, you need a building, and a mechanical system connected to a water wheel. And that old-school miller has to adapt, find a different way to compete, or find a new line of work. But, there are options.
Additionally, the miller who didn’t previously use a water wheel is in quite a bind if he can’t figure out how to engineer one, should there be a competition for work. However, it takes time and effort for ideas like this to spread. In the modern era, this would be product development, marketing, and sales. Nothing happens overnight, even if it feels like it.
Throughout the last 200 years, technology development has accelerated and disruption with it, that’s what’s scaring people. I wrote this to get you out in front of it, to understand what is the right thing to fear, and how to avoid needing the fear altogether.