The Swinburne National Technology and Society Monitor provides an annual ‘snapshot’ of public perceptions of technological change. Each year it includes an in-depth focus on one particular technology: this year the focus is on stem cell research. The Monitor is based on a national survey of 1000 Australians.
The main findings of the 2006 Monitor are:
Public Perceptions of Technological Change
1. Australians are very comfortable with the rate of technological change.
2. Most Australians are uncomfortable with the thought of nuclear power plants in Australia.
3. The degree of comfort with genetically modified plants and animals for food is relatively low.
4. While Australians are very uncomfortable with the idea of cloning, they are more comfortable with cloning domestic pets than cloning human babies.
5. Australians trust scientific institutions (such as CSIRO, universities and scientists) and the non-commercial media for information about new technologies. They are somewhat trusting of the environmental movement, but do not trust government institutions, major companies, the churches or trade unions. They have the least trust in the commercial media.
Focus on Stem Cell Research
1. Most Australians are comfortable with stem cell research using either tissue from adults or left-over IVF embryos, but are generally uncomfortable with stem cell research using therapeutic cloning.
2. In general Australians believe that potential benefits are likely for a wide variety of people if stem cell research is allowed to continue. The exception is the likely benefits for themselves personally, where most Australians believe they are unlikely to benefit from stem cell research.