With Wariness: How Americans Perceive Futuristic Science and Technology

By mize2oo5 (Cyborg  Uploaded by Marcok) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By mize2oo5 (Cyborg Uploaded by Marcok) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve posted about the 2014 science and engineering indicators earlier, highlighting statistics that represented the state of science and technology in the public purview. The numbers showed how technology has reshaped American society and how it is playing a significant role in people’s lives. Interestingly however, a more recent study from the Pew Research Center, an American think tank, is showing a not-so-expected “wariness” among Americans when talking about futuristic technology.

Americans are generally perceived to be excited with new technology. After all, the United States is the home of Hollywood, arguably the biggest source of popular mass market science fiction materials of the world. From the iconic “Star Wars” to the more recent “Her” and “Transcendence” movies, the United States has shown various forms of futuristic science and technology that you would think they’ll be very receptive of them in the future.

The following research findings from Pew Research Center show a few things that may not be what many of us are expecting:

72% of Americans Are Not Interested in Brain Implants

An overwhelming number of Americans, based on the Pew Research Center study, would prefer not having a brain implant even if it can mean improvements in memory and mental capacity.

65% of Americans Don’t Like “Robo-Care”

Around two out of every three Americans dislike the idea of robots doing health care work or providing care for the elderly. This is mostly understandable although it’s not certain how perceptions would change over time. It’s comparable to the idea of setting up senior care institutions. Many don’t like it at first but eventually warm up to the idea.

66% Don’t Favor DNA Alteration to Produce “Desirable” Children

A good majority of Americans think that it will be a change for the worse if parents could be allowed to have the DNA of their children modified to make them healthier, smarter, and more physically capable.

By Matt Howard [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Matt Howard [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

63% Don’t Like the Idea of Drones

About two out of three Americans are not amenable to the idea of drones permitted to fly across the United States airspace, whether they are personally or commercially operated. After all the NSA spying scandal, this is of course expected.

53% Consider It a Change for the Worse Being Always Connected Online via Wearable Tech

Being able to easily connect online is not a problem but more than half of the American population, women in particular, think that it’s not a change for the better wearing devices that constantly provide information or updates streamed from the Internet. This is rather unexpected considering that wearables are touted to be the next trend after ultra portable computers such as tablets and smartphones. It’s not impossible for wearables to eventually become as powerful as the smartphones that are now in use.

50% Are Not Interested Riding a Diver-less Car.

That’s just around half of the American population willing to entrust their commute to a machine. There’s still a high amount of hesitation among Americans in trusting artificial intelligence and machines to do the things typically done by humans. 50% is not a bad number, though. The numbers could sway to something more favorable to technology as soon as it can be clearly demonstrated that driverless cars are safe and efficient.

Only 39% Think that Teleportation Tech Will Have Been Developed within 50 Years.

This is not surprising although it may also be unsurprising to learn that most of those who believe that teleportation could become a reality soon are not really that scientifically knowledgeable.

Only 20% Are Interested in Eating Lab-Grown Meat.

A very high 80% of those surveyed expressed disinterest in consuming meat products that have been grown or propagated artificially.

Many Americans Also Prefer to Let Others Try New Technologies Before Jumping on the Bandwagon.

There is hesitation among many Americans in trying out new technologies. Many are not interested in becoming tech trailblazers. Pew Research Center did not give a specific percentage for this but expressed it as a generalization.

By NASA/Langley/Sean Smith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NASA/Langley/Sean Smith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nevertheless, the overall outlook, as the Pew report states, is that “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 scientific fiction come into common usage.”

Despite all of these numbers, it is still safe to say that Americans are positive about the progress of technology. Senior Pew Research Center researcher Aaron Smith says that “In the long run, Americans are optimistic about the impact that scientific developments will have on their lives and the lives of their children.”