I’ve misunderstood the Luddites. The point they were making back then is still valid today.
From an essay by Cory Doctorow:
As Merchant explains, the Luddites were anything but technophobes: they were skilled high-tech workers whose seven-year apprenticeships were the equivalent to getting a Master’s in Engineering from MIT. Their objection to powered textile machines had nothing to do with fear of the machines: rather, it was motivated by a clear-eyed understanding of how factory owners wanted to use the machines.
The point of powered textile machines wasn’t to increase the productivity of skilled textile workers – rather, it was to smash the guilds that represented these skilled workers and ensured that they shared in the profits from their labor. The factory owners wanted machines so simple a child could use them – because they were picking over England’s orphanages and recruiting small children through trickery to a ten-year indenture in the factories.
Go read the whole essay. It’s worth it, I promise you.
(I posted this to my other blog, but it’s an important insight and I wanted to make sure more people saw it.)