From the final few pages of Beneath the City Streets by Peter Laurie (1970) where he gets off the subject that the threat of global thermonuclear war might just be a plan to distract us and gets on to the subject of... transistors:
I am coming to believe that there is a much more serious threat to the technological way of life than the H-bomb. It is the transistor. Over the last two or three hundred years in the West we have followed a course of development that coupled increasingly powerful machines to small pieces of human brain to produce increasingly vast quantities of goods. The airliner, the ship, the typewriter, the lathe, the sewing machine, all employ a small part of the operator's intelligence, and with it multiply his or her productivity a thousandfold.
As long as each machine needed a brain, it was profitable to make more brains and with them more profits. Industrial populations grew in all the advanced countries, and political systems became more liberal simply to get their cooperation.
But now we are beginning to find that we do not need the brains - at least not in the huge droves that we have them. Little by little [..] artificial intelligence is dispossessing hundreds of thousands and soon millions of workers. Because 'the computer' is seen only in large installations doing book-keeping, where it puts few out of work, this tendency goes on unnoticed. But in every job economics forces economies on management. Little gadgets here and there get rid of workers piecemeal. [..] Any job that can be specified in, say, a thousand rules, can now be automated by equipment that costs Â£200 or so. The microprocessor, which now costs in itself perhaps Â£20, [..] has not begun to be applied: over the next 10 to 15 years millions will be installed in industry, distribution, commerce. Machinery, which has almost denuded the land, will now denude cities.
Politically, this will split the population into two sharply divided groups: those who have intelligence or complicated manual skills that cannot be imitated by computers - a much larger group, who have not. In strict economic terms the second group will not be worth employing. They can do nothing that cannot be done cheaper by machinery. [..] The working population will be reduced to a relatively small core of technicians, artists, scientists, managers surrounded by a large, unemployed, dissatisfied and expensive mob. I would even argue that this process is much further advanced than it seems, and the political subterfuges necessary to keep it concealed, are responsible for the economic malaise of western nations [..] If one has to pay several million people who are in fact useless, this is bound to throw a strain on the economy and arouse the resentment of those who are useful, but who cannot be paid what they deserve for fear of arousing the envy of other.
If the unemployed can be kept down to a million or so in a country like Britain, the political problem they present can be contained by paying a generous dole [..] The real total of unemployed is hidden in business. What happens when automation advances further and the sham can no longer be kept up? [..] To cope with the millions of unemployed and unemployable people needs - in terms of crude power - greatly improved police and security services. [..] It suggests that the unemployed should be concentrated in small spaces where they can be controlled, de-educated, penned up.
Unless some drastic alteration occurs in economic and political thought, the developed nations are going to be faced in the next thirty years with the fact that the majority of their citizens are a dangerous, useless burden. One can see that when civil defence has moved everything useful out of the cities, there might be strong temptation on governments to solve the problem by nuclear war: the technological elite against the masses.
Now I'm no more of a fan of the technocratic, silicon valley, Ayn Rand fanboys than the next man on the street but even in my most paranoid moments I'd never suspected that when they'd done disrupting they might stagger out of a ted talk and h-bomb us all.