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Most Americans aren’t comfortable with brain-computer interface, drone technology

A new poll by the Pew Center and Smithsonian Magazine says that most Americans are optimistic that technology will have a positive impact on human life in the coming decades. The poll sheds some light on what kinds of futuristic technologies Americans want, and which they don't.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that an overwhelming majority of people, or 72% percent of those surveyed, are "not interested in getting a brain implant to improve their memory or mental capacity," Pew reports. (That makes me slightly less nervous that technologies like brain-computer interface or BCI systems will see huge commercial success, but who knows.) Most people don't like the idea of being constantly monitored by flying robots, either; according to the poll, 63% don't want to see US skies flooded with commercial drones.

Where's the cool future of jet-packs and teleportation, you ask? So do your fellow Americans. Among the technologies people hope to see developed are: "1) travel improvements like flying cars and bikes, or even personal space crafts; 2) time travel; and 3) health improvements that extend human longevity or cure major diseases."

The poll also found that, of the 1,001 people surveyed:

  • 66% think it would be a change for the worse if prospective parents could alter the DNA of their children to produce smarter, healthier, or more athletic offspring.
  • 65% think it would be a change for the worse if lifelike robots become the primary caregivers for the elderly and people in poor health.
  • 53% of Americans think it would be a change for the worse if most people wear implants or other devices that constantly show them information about the world around them. Women are especially wary of a future in which these devices are widespread.

See detailed results.

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