“Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. [It conducts] public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research. [It does] not take policy positions. […] [The center studies] U.S. politics and policy; journalism and media; internet, science and technology; religion and public life; Hispanic trends; global attitudes and trends; and U.S. social and demographic trends. […]”
Available at . Accessed on January 12, 2016. Suppressions for pedagogical purposes (omission of excerpts with inadequate language level or advertising) marked with […]. Occasional linguistic adjustments to fit standard language marked with [ ].
7 Based on the text in activity 6, answer these questions in your notebook.
b What do you know about the survey conductors? Who do they work for? What kind of work do they do?
The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan institution that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. As for the Smithsonian magazine, it is part of an educational and research institution called Smithsonian Institution.
c What is the purpose of the survey?
Mainly to know Americans’ expectations and feelings about the future of technological and scientific advancements.
d How many and who were the respondents of the survey?
1,001 U.S. citizens.
e When and where was the survey published? Would it have had a different reach if it were made available in another media channel?
The survey was published on the Pew Research Center website on April 17, 2014, available as a complete report (PDF file) or as a press release article – a shorter version of the survey targeting the media, in general. Making the report available on a website, and not in a book, for example, facilitates the access to it, thus furthering its reach.
f Who is the survey addressed to?
The survey addresses any reader who is interested in scientific and technological matters. In addition, considering that newspaper companies and TV media report on the findings of the research, the survey reaches both local and global citizens.
g What may the survey be useful for?
The views of U.S. citizens provided by the survey can help shape the scientific and technological future, as new breakthroughs emerge and new inventions are developed. In terms of politics and economy, the futuristic advancements are intertwined with the local and global markets.
h What are some possible implications of a survey conducted for and by U.S. institutions about the future of technological and scientific advancements?
Considering that the U.S. has played an important role regarding scientific and technological breakthroughs, the survey might construct a homogeneous view on futuristic advancements as if the needs of the U.S. society were the same ones of the rest of the world. In addition, this American-size-fits-all model is not only about homogenization, but it can also be a way to perpetuate U.S. scientific and technological views worldwide, in a process known as “Americanization”. Therefore, the U.S. remain in their hegemonic position as the country that decides what is best for everyone. For instance, even though the title of the report states that the survey is about “U.S. Views of Technology and the Future”, the press release for the same report is read elsewhere as “Views of Science and the Future”, revealing, thus, a biased attitude towards the survey.
8 Decide whether or not these statements are in accordance with the ideas of the survey report. Use extracts from the text to support your answer.
a Overall, Americans are pessimistic about futuristic advancements in the next 50 years.
Not in accordance. “Some 59% are optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better […]”.
b The report reveals that U.S. citizens are enthusiastic about the next 50 years and show no concern about it.
Not in accordance. “[…] 30% think these changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are today.”; “But at the same time that many expect science to produce great breakthroughs in the coming decades, there are widespread concerns about some controversial technological developments that might occur on a shorter time horizon […]”
c People were interviewed by means of landline telephone and cell phone regardless of their age.
Not in accordance. “The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted February 13-18, 2014 among a national sample of 1,001 adults, 18 years of age or older [...]”; “Respondents in the landline sample were selected by randomly asking for the youngest adult male or female who [was] at home. Interviews in the cell sample were conducted with the person who answered the phone, if that person was an adult 18 years of age or older.”
d Many Americans seem to be happy with the technologies currently available to them.
In accordance. “[…] many Americans seem to feel happy with the technological inventions available to them in the here and now […].”
e Being able to live longer and healthier is among the expectations Americans have concerning futuristic inventions they would like to own.
In accordance. “Asked to describe in their own words the futuristic inventions they themselves would like to own, the public offered three common themes: […] 3) health improvements that extend human longevity or cure major diseases.”
9 Scan the text. What is the percentage of people who correspond to the following issues?
a People who are not interested in getting a brain implant to improve their memory or mental capacity. 72%
b People who expect that humans will have colonized planets other than Earth. 33%
c People who think certain futuristic changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are today. 30%
d People who believe there will be new organs custom grown in a lab if they need them. 81%
e People who expect that computers will be able to create art that is indistinguishable from that produced by humans. 51%
10 Look at the pictures on pages 8 and 9 again. Can you relate them to the survey report? If so, which ones and how?Respostas pessoais.
11 Go back to the answers you and your classmates gave to the survey in activity 2. How do they compare to the answers given by the Americans? Are your views similar to theirs?
12 Get together with some classmates and discuss these questions.
a Do you think the inventions mentioned are potential advancements in 50 years’ time?
b If those inventions were developed, would life in the future be better or worse than it is today? Why?
c In your opinion, what would the answers be like if the survey were conducted in Brazil?
d The report mentions that women are especially cautious about the use of devices that show people information concerning the world around them. What do you think justifies this opinion? Are there ethical limitations involved? If so, what would they be? Would Brazilian women feel the same about that?
Professor/a, a leitura de que as mulheres são mais precavidas acerca do uso de aparelhos que compartilham informações sobre o mundo a sua volta pode ser questionada pelos/as estudantes. Há aí uma referência indireta à questão ética sobre o que e quanto de informação compartilhar; assim, é possível inferir, por meio da leitura, que as mulheres são mais éticas a esse respeito. É importante problematizar essa representação estereotipada de gênero, estimulando os/as estudantes a refletir sobre tal questão em relação às mulheres brasileiras.
e “Prospective parents could alter the DNA of their children to produce smarter, healthier, or more athletic offspring”. If this were to become a reality, would it be a change for the better or for the worse, in your opinion? Why?
Professor/a, essa é uma das questões éticas levantadas no meio científico no que diz respeito ao uso de tecnologias que permitem alterar o DNA, de modo a produzir seres humanos com características específicas. As opiniões acerca dessa questão divergem, pois, ao mesmo tempo em que tal tecnologia pode promover a escolha do DNA, gerando embriões saudáveis e evitando doenças, ela esbarra na questão da eugenia (que, em último caso, implicaria a existência de uma casta privilegiada de seres humanos geneticamente alterados para serem “melhores” que os demais). Assim, trata-se de um ponto que vale a pena ser discutido em sala de aula, considerando sobretudo as questões éticas envolvidas.
f The text says “many Americans are also inclined to let others take the first step when it comes to trying out some potential new technologies that might emerge relatively soon”. What are some possible reasons for that? Would that be fair?
Professor/a, na resposta, os/as estudantes podem defender o fato de que, ao se testar novas tecnologias, há o risco de colocar vidas em perigo. Assim, uma vez que as consequências dessas novas tecnologias em potencial são desconhecidas, é mais seguro deixar que outros deem o primeiro passo. Dessa forma, os outros seriam cobaias, sinalizando se os/as estadunidenses devem ou não adquirir as tecnologias emergentes. Surge, assim, uma questão ética, pois tal atitude denota a indiferença de algumas pessoas em relação aos riscos corridos pelas demais em decorrência de tecnologias ainda não testadas, enquanto se aguarda os resultados em segurança.
Do some research about sci-fi movies and books to see how the future is represented in terms of inventions and sci-tech advancement. Then share your findings with your classmates.
13 Compare your findings in activity 3 to the Americans’ views. What have you learned?
Respostas pessoais. Professor/a, para esta comparação, é necessário fornecer aos/às estudantes as porcentagens da pesquisa original, as quais estão indicadas na atividade 2.
14 Regarding the views on technology and the future, countries other than the United States have come together around common interests, holding science, technology and innovation for human development. Read these excerpts from the Cape Town Declaration and answer the questions.
4. […] we agreed to enter into a BRICS Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation which shall serve as the strategic intergovernmental framework: (i) to strengthen cooperation in science, technology and innovation; (ii) to address common global and regional socioeconomic challenges utilizing shared experiences and complementarities; (iii) to cogenerate new knowledge and innovative products, services and processes utilizing appropriate funding and investment instruments; (iv) to promote, where appropriate, joint BRICS partnerships with other strategic actors in the developing world. […]
6. We agree under this BRICS STI framework the main areas of cooperation shall include: exchange of information on policies and programmes and promotion of innovation and technology transfer; food security and sustainable agriculture; climate change and natural disaster preparedness and mitigation; new and renewable energy, energy efficiency; nanotechnology; high performance computing; basic research; space research and exploration, aeronautics, astronomy and Earth observation; medicine and biotechnology; biomedicine and life sciences (biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, biomaterials); water resources and pollution treatment; high tech zones/science parks and incubators; technology transfer; science popularization; information and communication technology; clean coal technologies; natural gas and non-conventional gases; ocean and polar sciences; and geospatial technologies and its applications. […]
8. With a view to supporting the immediate implementation of the objectives outlined in the BRICS Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation, we recognize and endorse, as a first step, the establishment of five thematic areas and leadership, namely: (a) climate change and natural disaster mitigation, led by Brazil; (b) water resources and pollution treatment, led by Russia; (c) geospatial technology and its applications, led by India; (d) new and renewal energy, and energy efficiency, led by China; (e) astronomy, led by South Africa. […]”