This is a good question:
"Humans scale, and have scaled before any automation existed, so what made us scale? Localized transmission of knowledge (oral tradition), the automated cell/gene replication in combination with adaptations? "
And I think that the answer is inherent in the nature of life: that we are autonomous, and interactive, so we create a distributed network of diverse activities, adapting to local conditions, and scaling naturally.
Life seeks conditions of success. Humans, crickets, birds, plants - we migrate to the places where we flourish and avoid the places we don't, each making our decisions one by one.
Too dense a network and society fails. Too sparse a network and society fails. Autonomy is productive; eliminate it and society fails. But where autonomy is extended to point where it disrupts the network, society fails. (These aren't truisms; they are empirical observations, and subject to verification.)