This report emerges from the Pew Research Center's efforts to understand public attitudes about a variety of scientific and technological changes being discussed today. The time horizons of these technological advances span from today's realities -- for instance, the growing prevalence of drones -- to more speculative matters such as the possibility of human control of the weather.
Part of the motive for doing this work is to explore Americans' comfort levels -- their excitement, interest or wariness -- in the face of a raft of scientific innovations that are emerging or being considered. Since much of the funding for scientific research comes from the government, these attitudes can give key signals to policy makers and the scientific community about where the public stands on crucial funding decisions.
Another motive for doing this work is to test the state of the public's mood about the long-term future. Their relative optimism -- or pessimism -- says something about the current state of American culture. It also says something about the state of the American dream.