We live in a time of decline. The poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer. We like in a time where the Haves need less and less from the Have Nots. I reminisce to the time of the Luddites in England, passionately bringing down sledge hammers on the automatons of the day that promised to replace the worker. Of course, this did not completely come to fruition. Yes some textile workers where replaced, but the labor was needed elsewhere. Someone needed to do the intricate stitch work, someone needed to keep the machines running, and business infrastructure and agreements still had to be made. We needed people to deliver the goods to provide the raw materials.
The machinery of the industrial revolution was primitive, requiring a lot of upkeep. The machinery of the 19th century became increasingly automated, but still required human oversight. The 20th century brings us the “lights out” factory, called such because the factory is so self-sufficient that it no longer requires people to monitor it. Maintenance is minimal and the quality of the work is so standardized that you don’t need someone to stand at the side of a conveyer belt like a scene from the Lucille Ball Show. Anything that does slip through, optical sensors can pick them up at a faster and more accurate rate. With the advent of 3D printing, all the intricate work and details can be made at unprecedented speeds and qualities with no assembly required.
The person/cooperation who owns the machine pockets the cash. The government can try to protect the populace with capital goods taxes and redistribution the weather in an inefficient and unfair manner. If the cost of production at home becomes too great, the cooperation can go overseas, or even build its own floating platform, completely free from tax. With the need of only a skeleton crew if any, there will be little overhead. Throw a number of solar and wind turbines out there and you are self-sufficient. Automated automobiles already exist and have a better track record on the roads than human drivers. The whole supply and delivery chain can be free of human interaction.
The corporations grow, the 1% of the 1% take in a larger portion of the human wealth making themselves untouchable oligarchs. The distribution of wealth, as skewed as it already is, will get much worse. Microbiological techniques already promise to extend life beyond its current limits. Regrow failing organs, expanding the lifecycle of cells, and curing cancer will make these few nearly immortal. They will manipulate the people to stop dissent, and shape the world according to whatever malevolent or malicious intent they may have. We will have a new mount Olympus complete with Pantheon.