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Do Americans Fear Advances in Technology?

Technophobia, the fear or dislike of modern technology, has been a part of our society since the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Many people harbor at least a little discomfort regarding technology, especially those parts of it that are beyond the average person’s comprehension.

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, most Americans are optimistic about advancing technology — 59 percent of those surveyed feel that over the next 50 years, technology will make our lives better. That makes sense, considering how much better equipment like the Dell PowerEdge R610 from xByte has already made our modern lives.

Some technological advances in particular, however, make most of us deeply uncomfortable. In fact, you might say that Americans suffer from a deep-seated technophobia of certain technological advances, especially those set to occur soon.

Americans Fear Cyborgs, Robots and Drones

Do Americans Fear Advances in Technology?

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The results of the Pew survey would seem to indicate that it’s the advances we’re already on the cusp of that give most Americans the collective willies. As the FAA fights to gain regulatory power over nonmilitary drones in U.S. airspace, 63 percent of Americans say that allowing commercial drones to populate our airspace would change our lives, but not for the better.

There are other pending advances that cause Americans worry. Eighty percent would not eat lab-created meat. Fifty-three percent say that cybernetic implants — or even wearable devices like Google Glass – would make life worse for all of us. Driverless cars could soon become a reality, but 50 percent of the survey respondents claim they wouldn’t even get in one.

Sixty-five percent disapprove of the use of robots to care for the old and sick. Seventy-two percent would decline a brain implant that could increase their cognitive abilities or enhance their memories. Sixty-six percent do not believe that genetic enhancement for humans would make the world a better place.

Optimism for the Future Remains High

Despite Americans’ discomfort with upcoming technological advancements, most of us remain optimistic that technology will bring mostly good things over the next five decades. Eighty-one percent of Americans said they believe technology will bring new hope to people in need of organ transplants by making it possible custom-grow organs in the lab. 

Do Americans Fear Advances in Technology?

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A slight majority — 51 percent — of Americans also thinks that computers will soon be able to create art, music and literature to rival the finest works of human hands within 50 years; however, 45 percent disagree with this assessment. 

Most of the Americans surveyed felt that some of the advances proposed seemed unlikely. Only 33 percent predicted that humans will leave planet Earth and establish long-term colonies in space within the next 50 years. Thirty-nine percent said they thought scientists would be able to teleport objects, or perhaps people, by 2064. A mere 19 percent felt optimistic that humans would develop the ability to control the weather within the near future.

Americans Want Time Travel, Longer Lives

The Pew survey also asked respondents what technologies they’d most like to see emerge in their lifetimes. Nine percent said they hoped scientists invent a time machine. The same number responded that they’d most like science to develop the power to extend the human lifespan, cure major diseases or improve general health.

Small numbers of Americans said they most wanted to own a futuristic personal conveyance. Six percent said they wanted a flying car or bike, while four percent hope to someday own a personal space craft. Only three percent admitted they’d buy the aforementioned self-driving car, and a similar number said they’d prefer a private teleportation device. Just one percent of survey respondents wanted a jet pack, and a further one percent wanted a hover board.

Eleven percent, however, said that they aren’t personally looking forward to any of these science-fiction technological advances. A significantly larger number, 28 percent, said they might want one, but couldn’t make up their minds on a favorite.

The results of a recent Pew survey show that Americans are definitely uncomfortable with some aspects of modern technology. We’re especially wary of impending technologies like driverless cars, drones and lab-grown meat. Nevertheless, most Americans look forward to the future and expect technology to bring us mostly good things in the years to come.

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