As they watch the splashy emergence of generative artificial intelligence and an array of other AI applications, experts participating in a new Pew Research Center canvassing say they have deep concerns about people's and society's overall well-being. At the same time, they expect to see great benefits in health care, scientific advances and education
Experts are split about how much control people will retain over essential decision-making as digital systems and artificial intelligence spread. They agree that powerful corporate and government authorities will expand the role of AI in people’s daily lives in useful ways. But, many worry these systems will diminish individuals’ ability to control their choices.
Experts are split about the likely evolution of a truly immersive “metaverse.” They expect that augmented- and mixed-reality enhancements will become more useful in people’s daily lives. Many worry that current online problems may be magnified if Web3 development is led by those who built today’s dominant web platforms.
Asked to "imagine a better world online," experts hope for a ubiquitous – even immersive – digital environment that promotes fact-based knowledge, offers better defense of individuals’ rights, empowers diverse voices and provides tools for technology breakthroughs and collaborations to solve the world’s wicked problems.
Many experts say public online spaces will significantly improve by 2035 if reformers, big technology firms, governments and activists tackle the problems created by misinformation, disinformation and toxic discourse. Others expect continuing troubles as digital tools and forums are used to exploit people’s frailties, stoke their rage and drive them apart.
A majority worries that the evolution of artificial intelligence by 2030 will continue to be primarily focused on optimizing profits and social control. Still, a portion celebrate coming AI breakthroughs that will improve life.
A plurality of experts think sweeping societal change will make life worse for most people. Still, a portion believe things will be better in a ‘tele-everything’ world.
A majority of experts canvassed say significant reforms aimed at correcting problems in democratic institutions and representation will take place. But they are divided about whether this will lead to positive outcomes for the public.
About half the experts we canvassed predict humans' use of technology will weaken democracy by 2030, while a third expect technology will strengthen it as reformers fight back against democracy's foes.
Fifty years after the first computer network was connected, most experts say digital life will mostly change things for the better in coming decades. But they say this will require reforms toward better cooperation and security, basic rights and economic fairness.