While most of us struggle to come up with a crisp definition of technology, we somehow agree that it is a good thing. After all, what would life be like without light bulbs, refrigerators or antibiotics?
Surveys tell us that twice as many Americans think that technology will make our lives better than think it will make them worse. STEM classes are the buzz in higher education, and technological innovation is the pony we plan on riding to a more robust national economy. It would appear that we are a nation happily chugging the technology Kool-Aid.
But there are details in the data that tell a slightly different story. Those who are betting on technology are predominantly male, earn more than $75,000 per year, and have graduated from college. When it comes to specific technologies that are almost ready for prime time, people are evenly divided on driverless cars, but solidly against brain implants to improve mental performance, eating meat grown in a lab, or engineering DNA to produce smarter, more athletic children. The proliferation of personal drones in U.S. airspace, or the use of robots to care for the elderly also generate considerable skepticism.
Our wish list for future technologies centers on travel and health, with time machines thrown in for good measure. I find it hard to imagine that people who are afraid of drones would jump willingly into a time machine, but there are always those who are determined to buy Google at $85 a share.
There is one final statistic that I personally find the most interesting. The majority of seniors over the age of 65, when asked about future inventions, said they could care less. Perhaps being a technologist myself has biased me, but I find all of these technologies enticing.
Except for the lab grown meat.