Americans hopeful about cancer and computers: survey


Americans are largely hopeful that cancer will be cured and that computers will be able to chat with them by 2050, but they are also braced for a major energy crisis and a warming planet, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

More than half, or 58 percent, fear another world war in the next 40 years and 53 percent expect a terrorist attack against the United States using a nuclear weapon.

The poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Smithsonian magazine included 1,546 adults interviewed by telephone and on the Internet in April.

It shows Americans are in general far less hopeful than they were in 1999. In 1999, 81 percent said they were optimistic about life for themselves and their families. The current poll found just 64 percent were.

Sixty-one percent said they were optimistic about the future of the United States, compared to 70 percent in 1999. And 56 percent predicted the U.S. economy would be stronger in 40 years, compared to 64 percent of those polled in 1999.

Here are some other findings of the poll:

* 71 percent believe cancer will be cured by 2050.

* 81 percent believe computers will be able to converse like humans.

* 68 percent of those under 30 predict a world war by 2050.

* Nearly three-quarters or 74 percent of those polled believe it likely that “most of our energy will come from sources other than coal, oil, and gas”.

* Yet 72 percent believe the world is likely to experience a major worldwide energy crisis by 2050.

* 66 percent say the Earth will definitely or probably get warmer but it breaks down strongly along political lines, with just 48 percent of Republicans saying so and 83 percent of Democrats.

* 42 percent say it is likely that scientists will be able to tell what people are thinking by scanning their brains but 55 say this will definitely or probably not happen.

* 89 percent believe a woman will be elected president by 2050.

* 86 percent say it is at least probable that most Americans will have to work into their 70s before retiring.

* On one religious question, 41 percent say they believe Jesus Christ will return within the next 40 years while 46 percent say this will definitely or probably not happen.

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