Automation is not a new phenomenon in manufacturing. American manufacturers started replacing people on production lines with automatic palletizers, filling machines, and case packers back in the 1950s. Robots did not come into the picture until the 1990s. Most of the large manufacturing plants in the U.S. are now highly automated.
But there is a new threat that is striking fear into the heart of working people. It is the possibility that artificial intelligence will progress to the point that machines will become sentient and replace people in all working environments. This idea has been popularized in movies like the Terminator, when scientists created a computer chip that made machines conscious and self-aware.