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Millions of jobs across the Western world are at risk due to artificial intelligence. Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs cautioned its clients that AI could affect up to 300 million jobs in the coming years. Recent news about IBM implementing a hiring freeze due to automation, along with similar actions by other corporations, has sparked the ‘fear of becoming obsolete’ (FOBO) among the younger workforce participants, according to a new poll. 

Gallup revealed a surge in respondents expressing FOBO, driven by the expansion of AI, over the last year. 

Twenty-two percent now say they worry that technology will make their job obsolete, up seven percentage points from the prior reading in 2021. The figure had previously varied between 13% and 17%, with little upward movement in the trend.

FOBO is occurring with “college-educated workers, among whom the percentage worried has jumped from 8% to 20,” Gallup said. At the same time, survey data showed those without college degrees could care less about AI taking their jobs. Most of the FOBO is occurring with younger respondents. 

The number one worry respondents had was AI and other technological advancements harming their job benefits. About a third said they were worried about reduced benefits, and almost a quarter worried about decreasing wages. 

The wake-up call for workers has been the release of ChatGPT last November. “It is no longer only about robots standing in for humans in warehouses and on assembly lines but has expanded to online programs conducting sophisticated language-based work, including writing computer code,” Gallup said. 

According to Goldman’s Jan Hatzius, “using data on occupational tasks in both the US and Europe, we find that roughly two-thirds of current jobs are exposed to some degree of AI automation, and that generative AI could substitute up to one-fourth of current work. Extrapolating our estimates globally suggests that generative AI could expose the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs to automation” as up to “two-thirds of occupations could be partially automated by AI.”

Reports like Goldman’s have been echoed by other investing desks and Wall Street professionals. These reports have sparked a wave of FOBO across the Western world. 

For more insight into the rapidly evolving job landscape, Visual Capitalist’s Marcus Lu and Sabrina Lam – using data from MSCI – has ranked the industries where AI-driven automation will displace the most workers. 

This is a big problem for all those college students accumulating insurmountable student debt for degrees that may be proven worthless. 


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