Science fiction is becoming reality -- and Americans aren't all that excited

This Feb. 17, 2014 file photo shows a remote controlled model aircraft flying over the Washington Nationals spring training baseball workout in Viera, Fla. Alex Brandon/AP

Many of the things we think of as science fiction will become real science over the next 50 years. Replacement organs will be grown in labs, drones will deliver packages, scientists may even figure out how to teleport things -- and even as they recognize the benefits, many Americans are not looking forward to the changes, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

While 59 percent of Americans are optimistic that scientific and technological changes will improve our quality of life, 30 percent say the changes will make life worse. Men with college degrees are the most optimistic, but age and rate of technology use did not have a major impact on a person's optimism.

The highest percentage -- 81 -- agrees that it will soon be possible to grow organs in labs, and 51 percent think computers will be able to create artwork just as well as humans.

Less than 40 percent expect teleportation to be possible within the next half century, and even fewer -- 33 percent -- expect humans to be colonizing other planets. The least likely scientific advance, according to the public? Controlling the weather. Only 19 percent think it will be possible.

The worst possible changes, they say, relate to interfering with nature. Asked if prospective parents should be able to alter the DNA of their children, 66 percent said it would be a change for the worse. They're also not looking to change themselves: 72 percent would not get a brain implant to improve mental abilities. Only 20 percent are interested in eating meat grown in a lab.

Robots are most appealing to 30- to 49-years-olds: 8 percent say they want to own a robot servant. But overall, 65 percent do not want to see lifelike robots replacing caregivers for the elderly or sick.

Regarding Google Glass and similar devices, 53 percent think they're a change for the worse. And they like their privacy: 63 percent are not looking forward to personal or commercial drones flying through U.S. airspace. There is a more even split when it comes to driverless cars: 48 percent are interested.

Short of these forthcoming inventions, Pew asked what they are more interested in. The top three responses were improved methods of transportation, like flying cars; time travel; and health improvements to extend longevity and fight disease.

The survey was based on 1,001 telephone interviews of adults 18 and older conducted from Feb. 13-18.

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    Danielle Elliot is a freelance science editor and reporter for CBS News. She holds an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Twitter - @daniellelliot.

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