Pew Research: America’s Wavering Opinion On Futuristic Technologies

Pew Research: America’s Wavering Opinion On Futuristic Technologies

A national survey shows Americans' unsettled feelings on drones, weather control, and designer DNA.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 23 april 2014

With 3D printing, bionic limbs and gesture-controlled devices gaining traction, our world has changed a lot since the days of our grandparents. According to the results of a national survey recently conducted by the Pew Research Center in partnership with Smithsonian Magazine, Americans foresee a large number of major scientific happenings in the next 50 years.

The survey asked Americans about various aspects of technology, including robotics and bio-engineering, as well as “futuristic” concepts like teleportation, space colonization, and even weather control. The survey also asked the participants for their scientific predictions and about their feelings and thoughts towards new inventions and developments that may soon become part of everyday life.

According to the results of the survey, most of the participants think that the new technologies and advancements in the next 50 years will have a positive impact on society. A little more than half (59%) feel that upcoming technological and scientific changes will improve the quality of life, while 30% think that they will only make people worse off than they already are.

With 81% of respondents expecting custom-grown organs to be a reality for people in need, it seems that Americans are quite optimistic about the potential of “futuristic” scientific breakthroughs. Over 51% expect computers to be able to create music, paintings, novels, and other important pieces of art that will be indistinguishable from man-made work.

Despite the high level of optimism and expectations, it looks like most of the survey participants think humans still have a long way to go when it comes to developments like teleportation, space colonization, and weather control. Only 39% expect that the technology to teleport objects will be developed and only 33% think man will be able to colonize another planet. In addition, only 19% think man will be able to develop the technology to control the weather in the next 50 years.


In contrast to the optimism and high expectations, the survey results showed that most Americans are a bit uneasy when it comes to controversial advancements that are looming in the near future. Some 53% think wearing implants or other devices that constantly show information about the world would only make things worse. Women, in particular, do not feel positively about wearing these devices. Two-thirds of participants (66%) think it would be a change for the worse if parents were able to “design” their babies’ DNA. Lastly, 63% think allowing personal and commercial drones to fly over most of the US airspace wouldn’t be such a good idea.

When it comes to new technologies that may emerge relatively soon, people are not averse to them but would rather let others try them out first. About half would be interested in getting on a driverless car, while the other half are not so keen. Most of the respondents, however, would not consider brain implants to improve their memory or mental function, or eat lab-grown meat. Only 26% would consider brain implants and only 20% would eat lab-grown meat.

The survey respondents were also asked to describe in their own words the kind of inventions that they would like to own in the future. The top three common answers included travel improvements like flying vehicles or personal space crafts, time travel capabilities, and health solutions that can prolong life or cure major illnesses.

The complete report can be found on the Pew Research Center website.

Pew Research
Images: Wonderlane CC BY 2.0, reynermedia CC BY 2.0


Modular System Lets Musicians Create Their Own MIDI Controllers

Arts & Culture
Travel Today

Mercedes Reveals Dazzle-Free LED Headlights

Digital Light offers great precision with a resolution of over two million pixels

Product Launch Today

Nissan Is Testing A Digital Car Sharing Program In Europe

Nissan plans to launch their new service in Paris sometime this year to trial the profile-matching service


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Social Media Today

Your Favorite Tweets Are Now Wearable

This temporary tattoo allows fans to wear their most favorite moments from the social platform

Health Today

This Mirror Tracks Your Dark Circles And Fine Lines

HiMirror is a device snaps a photo of your face every day to provide feedback on how to care for your skin

Related Expert

Morgwn Rimel

Living Intelligently, Living Well

Sustainability Today

Biodegradable Furniture Made From Pine Needles Could Be The Next Phase Of Sustainable Living

Premiering at Dutch Design Week 2016, the collection fully utilizes an often wasted material

Retail Today

Creative Director: Navigating The New World Of Founder-Brands

Richard Smith, Creative Director at Sullivan, explains how visionaries like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg approach their branding and why it’s important to apply brand thinking to founders’ products

Syndicated Today

Madrid's 'Robin Hood' Cafe Charge The Rich To Feed The Poor

The charity restaurant makes money from customers by day to offer homeless people meals at night


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Store Technology Expert: Why Retailers Must Invest In Store Associates

Jan Kotowski, Head of Product at Tulip Retail, shares his thoughts on how retailers should be preparing for the future

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

USA Today

Amazon Launches Cashier-Free Store For Ultimate Efficiency

The retailer is looking to make shopping even faster by letting customers instantly pay as they walk out the door

Augmented & Virtual Reality Today

Marble-Like Mini-Worlds Invade Miami Art Week And Your Mobile Screen

The gallery world's sphere of influence seems to be expanding into the realm of Pokémon Go—why that's a good thing

Technology Today

A 'USB Stick' That Can Detect HIV Levels

The simple device developed at Imperial College London measures viral load in less than 30 minutes

Customer Retention Today

Crafting The Personalized Retail Experience

Marriott International's Christopher Baer shares insights into how the hospitality company is strategizing customer service

Retail Today

Zagat's Cafe Offers Tiny Replicas Of Classic NYC Dishes

The restaurant rating service created buzz for its new guide and app by opening a tiny food cafe


Conference Built Around Report Launch

Children Today

Experience The White House In Augmented Reality Using A $1 Bill

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is an AR app designed to help people learn about the history and significance of the United State's capital building

Travel Today

Portable Computer Monitor Opens Up Like An Umbrella For Travelers

This mobile screen and projector means work can go anywhere and still feel like working from home

Food Today

Starbucks Is Selling An Automated Temperature-Setting Mug

For those looking to keep their coffee hot on their winter commutes, the coffee chain has created a device that keeps beverages exactly at their desire temperature

No search results found.