U.S. Views of Technology and the Future

Patty TerhuneTech News

The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage. This is among the main findings of a new national survey by The Pew Research Center, produced in partnership with Smithsonian magazine.

The survey asked Americans for their predictions about the long-term future of scientific advancement, and also asked them to share their own feelings and attitudes toward some new developments that might become common features of American life in the relatively near future. Some 59% are optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better, while 30% think these changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are today. Among the other findings:

  • 66% of Americans think it would be a change for the worse if prospective parents could alter the DNA of their children to produce smarter, healthier, or more athletic offspring.
  • 53% think it would be a change for the worse if most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them. Women are especially wary of a future in which these devices are widespread.
  • 81% expect that within the next 50 years, people needing new organs will have them custom grown in a lab.
  • 39% expect that scientists will have developed the technology to teleport objects.

Asked to describe in their own words the futuristic inventions they themselves would like to own, the public offered three common themes: 1) travel improvements like flying cars and bikes, or even personal space crafts (19% mentioned this type of invention); 2) the ability to travel through time (9%); and 3) health improvements that extend human longevity or cure major diseases (9%).

Read or download the full report: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/