Americans both optimistic, pessimistic about future of tech

Americans expect “great breakthroughs” in technology and science in the next 50 years, and the majority of them think those advances will be mostly positive, according to a new Pew Research survey released today. 

But 30 percent of the Pew survey’s participants overall are worried that some innovations will change things for the worse. Among the things they’re pessimistic about: the prospect of approval of personal and commercial drones flying over U.S. airspace (the FAA’s target date for approving commercial drones is late next year). Also, robots as caregivers for the sick and the elderly (this is being worked on in Japan). Information-rich wearable implants and devices (Google Glass and beyond). In addition, prospective parents’ ability to alter the DNA of their kids. (Heard of designer babies?)

What kind of tech and scientific advances do people want to happen or are hoping to see? Driverless cars. Custom-made human organs. Teleportation, although they’re not sure that’s bound to happen anytime soon. Or colonizing Mars.

The survey is based on interviews on Feb. 13 to 18 with 1,001 adults in the United States.

Photo at top: A sample of lab-grown meat in a petri dish at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. (AFP/Getty Images)

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (3840 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).