FOBO, or the anxiety that one’s job will one day become obsolete

FOBO, or the anxiety that one's job will one day become obsolete

With the emergence of artificial intelligence in the world of work, the fear of seeing one’s job become completely obsolete is growing. This is what the Anglo-Saxons call FOBO. In the United States, more than one in five now fear that their work will one day be useless.

FOBO is the acronym for “Fear of being obsolete”, which literally means “fear of becoming obsolete”. If the concept is in fact not new, it has taken on an unprecedented scale since the appearance of ChatGPT and others.

One in 5 employees are afraid that technology will replace them

The emergence of artificial intelligence has in fact increased this feeling tenfold according to several studies, including a very recent one from the Gallup organization, conducted in August 2023 among 1,014 American adults spread across 50 states. It shows that 22% of American workers today fear that technology will one day make their jobs obsolete, a figure that has increased by 7 points since 2021.

Now, college-educated employees are almost as concerned about this threat as other workers overall. 20% are afraid that their work will soon be obsolete (+12 pts in one year). This fear is also stronger among young people aged 18 to 34 (28%), who are even more aware of the possibilities offered by AI. Small optimistic note: only a quarter of those questioned consider this to be an imminent threat.

AI could replace 300 million full-time jobs worldwide

In the past, the arrival of robots on the job market has mainly worried workers, sometimes replaced by machines on assembly lines. From now on, artificial intelligence threatens other types of professions, office and more qualified. Among the professions most exposed to the development of AI are those involving entering data, correcting or translating text, managing accounts, carrying out market research, moderating online content or even organize trips.

In a report published last March, the American bank Goldman Sachs estimated that artificial intelligence systems could replace 300 million full-time positions worldwide. “Around two thirds of today’s jobs are exposed to some degree of automation by AI and up to a quarter of the entire market could be entirely done by AI” in Europe and the United States, explains the report.