In the early 1800s, groups of English craftspeople banded together (in a loosely organized fashion) into groups called Luddites. They were primarily home workers who did piecemeal weaving and other hand work which was in the process of being displaced by automation. In this case, it was a matter of large mills being set up with machinery that allowed much more work to be done with many fewer people. Their existing livelihoods were threatened and they rebelled -- destroying equipment and damaging factories until they were brought under control by continuously increasing violence on the part of the shop owners and government. This was the foundation of displacement by automation -- local retraining and dispersement of labor.
In the world today, a first phase of economic displacement has occurred because of unequal labor laws across the world. Some areas pay low wages in comparison to where the products are sold (sometimes the wages are not that bad in comparison to other wages local to the workers). Some bypass, or do not have, environmental laws or labor laws which prevent the more severe abuse of workers in the region and/or move the burden of cleaning the environment to the general society. In this first phase, the manufacturing base is still trying to do more with less; in this first phase, it is done by moving the work to places where they can make use of people who are valued less.
In the original Luddite period, automation came in and workers had to be retrained but the work and the labor remained local. Overall employment was (eventually) retained by retraining and by increasing the product market (increased consumerism and the rise of the "middle class"). In the first phase, production was moved to other locales to take advantage of the discrepancies of laws, working conditions, and attitudes toward general workers.
We are now entering the second phase. In this second phase, the cost of automation starts becoming less expensive, and more efficient, for the business owners than even that of outsourced labor and sub-component manufacture. In this second phase, it is still possible to have retraining but even with increased general education and increased consumerism it is not possible to fully compensate for the need of fewer workers per manufactured widget.
As the tip-over occurs, the global amount of unemployment will steadily rise. There are, of course, various options. Some philosophical/economic groups feel there is no obligation by society to care about the poor -- so those without employment are free to starve or scrape by in any way they can (except by attacking the privileged, of course). Other groups recognize this economic trend and have started to set up a stabilizing economic foundation so that, as automation continues to shift and replace the existing workforce, people have the ability to live at a sustenance (ability to house, feed, and educate themselves) level.
This concept of an economic foundation is called Universal Basic Income (UBI). It replaces various per-situation social supports (in the U.S., projects such as "welfare", "food stamps", "subsidized housing", and so forth) and allows for everyone to start off at a basic level no matter their circumstances. As they are able, and have opportunity, they add on top of this economic foundation to allow for "better" scales of living -- more space, fashionable clothes, less common foods, etc. The foundation exists for them to survive.
As is true for the various per-situation social supports, there are questions of need versus misuse. One of the concepts behind UBI is that, since everyone is entitled to the benefit, there is no actual potential of misuse. It does require a reorientation of attitudes of social responsibility. It has the very significant advantage of being a simple concept -- although the actual implementation would require a huge shakeup of our economic structures.
It also requires answering basic questions that are difficult and controversial. Is the ability to survive a basic human right? There is no overall consensus on this question. Should the right to have an unlimited number of children be universal or is this an extra right that must be earned beyond the foundational level of sustenance? What are the minimal needs for survival? Food, shelter, heat (where needed), and minimal clothing can probably be agreed upon but what about items such as Internet access, cell phones? Is education a universal right? To what level might it be provided by the general society?
There are many other questions that must be resolved about UBI -- assuming that society decides that this is part of our overall social responsibility. There are social "experiments" in the process of being attempted right now and they should provide some ability to understand how various shifts change the economic interactions in society and the problems that surface.