Poll: Most optimistic about technology

More than half the country thinks that technological developments over the next 50 years will be good for society, though a significant portion is still pessimistic, according to a new poll.

The Pew Research Center survey found that 59 percent of the public are optimistic that technological change will lead to a future where people’s lives are mostly better. Men were more supportive of the benefits of new technology, as were wealthier respondents and those who had graduated from college.

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In contrast, 30 percent said that technological advancements would lead to a worse future. 

Though they use technology differently, people’s views about the future were largely the same across all age groups.

The survey asked about a range of hypothetical advances, and respondents were willing to envision multiple major jumps in scientific knowledge.

A third of the public said that humans will colonize a planet other than Earth in the next half-century, and eight in 10 said that people will be able to get new organs grown in a laboratory.  Half the country also said that computers will be able to create art indistinguishable from that made by people, and 39 percent were hopeful that scientists will have discovered teleportation.

Some features that seem more plausible were regarded skeptically.

More than 50 percent of Americans thought it would be a change for the worse if most people wore devices giving them constant information about the world around them, and 63 percent were not looking forward to personal and commercial drones fling though U.S. airspace.

The Pew analysis was conducted in partnership with Smithsonian magazine and surveyed 1,001 adults.