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Americans aren’t keen on drones, Google Glass-like devices

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Let’s face it: A lot has changed in the past few years. Smartphones! 3D printers! Drones! Face computers! Self-driving cars! It almost feels as though we’re living in the future. According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, Americans expect this rapid pace of change to continue over the next 50 years.

And while most of those surveyed think all this new tech will be a good thing, there are a few things the populace is wary about.

The Pew survey found that 56 percent of respondents “are optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better,” while 30 percent have a more dystopian view of the not-too-distant future.

Amazon has a bit of work to do to convince Americans that delivery by drone is a good idea.

But despite the generally positive outlook, 63 percent think allowing personal and commercial drone aircraft would be “a change for the worse.” Along the same vein, 53 percent are wary of the notion of “implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them” becoming commonplace.

Put another way, most Americans are not yet ready for Amazon’s plans to ship products by drone and Google’s dreams of ubiquitous Glass. (Of course, by some measure, a smartphone is a device that constantly shows information about the world around you, so in that sense the future nobody wants is already here.)

So much for dreams of taco delivery by quadrocopter, huh?

Also unpopular is the notion of modifying the DNA of an unborn child to make them “smarter, healthier, or more athletic,”with 66 percent saying we would be worse off with this technology. The same goes with robotic caregivers for the sick and elderly: 65 percent think this would be a bad idea. No word on whether the public has similar misgivings about robotic housekeepers.

As many as 81 percent of those surveyed expect that scientists will be able to grow new organs in a lab with in the next half century, while only about a third expect humans to colonize other planets in that time. And less than 20 percent of respondents expect humans to be able to “control the weather.”

google self-driving car

As for trying new things, about half the respondents would be OK with riding in a self-driving car. On the other hand, the idea of lab-grown meat isn’t too popular: Only about 20 percent of those surveyed are willing to give it a try.

Of course, these responses are mostly speculative at this point: So far, Google Glass is still in a trial phase and it isn’t yet legal to use drones commercially, so nobody quite knows what the impact of those sorts of technologies will be just yet. It’ll be interesting to see how responses evolve over the next few years.

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