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"Tokyo homeless people reiterate the whole nature of living in Tokyo in cardboard boxes, they're only slightly smaller than Tokyo apartments, and they have almost as many consumer goods. It's a nightmare of boxes within boxes."
- William Gibson

The Machines  
  A few of these can run a planetary economy.  

Our new world wide robot economy may develop its own problems, and for that reason we have the Machines. The Earth's economy is stable, and remains stable, because it is based upon the decisions of calculating machines that have the good of humanity at heart through the overwhelming force of the First Law of Robotics.

"...And although the Machines are nothing but the fastest conglomeration of calculating circuits ever invented, they are still robots within the meaning of the First Law, and so our Earth-wide economy is in accord with the best interests of Man. The population of Earth knows that there will be no unemployment, no overproduction or shortages. Waste and famine are words in history books...

From The Evitable Conflict, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1950
Additional resources -

How were these Machines created?

"...the Machines are a gigantic extrapolation. Thus - A team of mathematicians work several years calculating a positronic brain equipped to do certain acts of calculation. Using this brain they make further calculations to create a still more complicated brain, which they use again to make one still more complicated and so on... what we call the Machines are the result of ten such steps."

Compare to the City Fathers from James Blish's 1957 tetralogy Cities in Flight.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Evitable Conflict
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