I teach, think, and write a lot about the technology of the future, and the implications of that technology. I often worry that people accept the evils of technology without thinking carefully enough about it — i.e., spying, other privacy invasions, and hacking — and that Aldous Huxley’s fear that we’ll be “caught by surprise by our advancing technology” will indeed come to fruition. But recent Pew research indicates that Americans might be a little more skeptical about futuristic technology than I thought.
Just as we’ve experienced great technological leaps in the past few decades, we’ll continue to advance technologically at breakneck, if not exponential, speed. The Pew Research Center wanted to see how Americans feel about what’s coming down the pike, and what technologies they predict will actually come to fruition in the next 50 years. Their research shows that 59% of respondents believe the coming technology will impact society in a positive way. I’m not sure if that number indicates optimism or naivete, or perhaps a little bit of both. Thirty percent of respondents think the coming technological changes will make life worse. Are they pessimists or Luddites? Maybe a bit of both.