Americans Both Fear And Embrace Technology

A report released today, April 17th, by the famed Pew Research Center, highlights that Americans believe technology is likely to make things better over the long run, but not necessarily over the short run.

According to the overview of the report, “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.”

Generally optimistic about technology

Most Americans who responded to the Pew survey were fairly positive about the benefits of technology in the future. Almost 60% of Americans believe technological developments will improve living conditions over the next 50 years, and only 30% said they believed technology will make life worse.

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More than 81% of respondents indicated they believe that people who need transplants will have access to “lab-grown” organs, and 51% replied that computers will have the ability to produce art.

People are, however, generally less optimistic about a few technologies. Only 39% of Americans think teleportation is likely, just over 33% say we’ll have long-term space colonies by 2064 and just 19% expect that humans will have control over the weather.

Technology concerns

One point of note is that the advances closest to becoming reality are the technologies Americans are most worried about.

Over 65% of Americans, for example, believe things would be worse in U.S. airspace if flying drones are legalized. About two-thirds of respondents replied that they disliked the idea of robots taking care of the sick and elderly, and around the same percentage were opposed to the idea of parents being able to change the genetics of their unborn children.


Another point of interest is that only 37% of the Pew survey respondents believe it is not a good idea for wearable devices or implants for digitally connection to become commonplace.

People’s fears about technology typically revolve around social norms, according to Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at Pew and the author of the report, “They are especially concerned about developments that have the potential to upend long-standing social norms around things like personal privacy, surveillance, and the nature of social relationships.”