Information and life science technologies have profound social, political, psychological and ethical implications. Public perceptions of such technologies are potentially volatile.
The Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor was developed in 2003 at Swinburne University of Technology. It involves a representative nationwide survey of Australians, and provides an annual ‘snapshot’ of public perceptions regarding new technologies in Australia.
The 2013 Monitor is the eleventh edition of the Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor. It provides a general account of public perceptions about new technologies in Australia, including trust in institutions that provide information about new technologies. In addition, it involves an assessment of current social concerns, and a profile on public perceptions about climate change.
The main findings of the 2013 Monitor are:
1. In general, Australians are comfortable with the rate of technological change in the world today.
2. Most Australians are very comfortable with having wind farms in Australia but are not comfortable with having nuclear power plants in Australia.
3. The degree of comfort with genetically modified (GM) plants and animals for food remains relatively low.
4. Australians trust scientific institutions and the non-commercial media for information about new technologies. They have less trust in major companies and the churches, with the least trust in the commercial media.
5. Australians report higher levels of trust in medical doctors (particularly medical specialists) than in mental health professionals.
6. When asked what social issues were the most important for Australia today, issues related to quality of life were the most cited social concerns, followed by population, public health and environmental issues.
7. Most Australians believe that climate change is happening.