The Weird Problem Troubling Tech: FOMO

FOMO, for those of you not up on the lingo, is the Fear Of Missing Out. It’s simultaneously a marketing strategy and a genuine psychological hook, something that falls between jealousy and desire. It’s also something affecting the tech world, as rapid developments mean it’s easy to be left out in the cold. 

The best example from recent times is, of course, artificial intelligence or AI – specifically, generative AI. In theory, this modern alchemy turns lead into gold, creating music, pictures, and movies from a simple text prompt. Saying “please” isn’t required, although, some analysts disagree on that point.

Politeness is free, after all. 

Fomo Jomo

Aimless Development

Consultancy firm Wavestone claims that three-quarters (75%) of leaders in the tech space feel FOMO. A good 39% of people polled have also placed generative computing at the heart of their business strategy. Just 1% of tech companies had no interest in AI. 

This might be seen as alarming. With the rate at which technology races through our lives, FOMO almost inevitably risks investment in the wrong things. Everything from Betamax to the Microsoft phone has been proclaimed futuristic in our past, yet exists only in junk drawers today.

There is always a chance that they’ll come back. Amazon is testing a delivery blimp that swarms with drones, for instance, yet airships are one of the classic failures in history – and so is drone-based delivery. 

There are only 25 blimps in existence today, many owned by Goodyear for advertising purposes.

The good news is that AI seems here to stay. Whether FOMO leads to aimless development “just for the sake of it” remains to be seen

“Disappointed” Messaging

Defined just after the millennium, FOMO has its origins in social media but it’s much more visible today in marketing. Even “disappointed” messaging, such as displaying recently sold-out products and opportunities (e.g. shows unavailable rooms) can stir a customer to buy.

One of the most recognizable FOMO techniques is a gift on purchase, especially when they have a short availability window. The New Jersey online casino sector offers deposit bonuses to this end. These cycle over months and seasons so they remain competitive.

Deposit bonuses usually manifest as free spins on slot games or extra coins to play with. 

FOMO isn’t always a consumer phenomenon in tech, due to the costs involved. As mentioned, it’s the creators themselves that suffer. CNBC reports that billions are being invested in start-ups to ease what seems like an irrational fear.

DeepMind AI

Citing a company called PitchBook, the previous source claims that 700 generative AI deals totaling $29.1bn were made last year, representing a surge of 260% over 2022. The money spent isn’t surprising if the expense of building AI is pulled into consideration. 

Google’s deal to acquire its DeepMind AI cost up to $850m.

For now, AI is one of the most promising research areas in the world – but, as we’ve seen earlier, technology doesn’t always serve its creators for long. The overbearing influence of proponents like Google and OpenAI could also spell trouble for the FOMO crowd, as expensive projects get shoved out of the market. 

Expect to see more newcomers gobbled up this year, too. 

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