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 1013 Australians and six focus groups.
The main findings of the 2004 Monitor are:
Public Perceptions of Technological Change
1. Australians are comfortable with the rate of technological change. Our level of
comfort in 2004 is very similar to what it was in 2003.
2. Australians believe that science and technology are continuously improving our
quality of life, but they are unsure as to whether or not science is ‘out of
3. Australians trust the environmental movement more than they trust governments.
In the past year, trust in the environmental movement has risen significantly,
while trust in state and federal governments, the media and hospitals have fallen,
though not significantly.
4. Age is a powerful predictor of comfort with new technologies, but not in a
straightforward way. Older Australians are more comfortable with DNA testing
than younger Australians. They are less comfortable than younger Australians with
mobile phones, but in the last year this gap has closed. They are also less
comfortable than younger Australians with the Internet, but this gap has not
closed in the past year.
5. Trust in government, business and the media predict levels of comfort with new
technologies. Trust in the environmental movement and trade unions do not
predict levels of comfort with new technologies.
Focus on Stem Cell Research
1. Most Australians are reasonably comfortable with stem cell research using adult
2. Most Australians are somewhat comfortable with stem cell research using leftover
IVF embryos, but some are very uncomfortable.
3. Most Australians are uncomfortable with stem cell research using cloned human
4. Australians are much more comfortable with stem cell research being conducted
in publicly funded Australian universities than in private Australian companies.
5. Religious Australians are significantly more likely to believe that science is out of
control and should be regulated. In turn, they are significantly less likely to be
comfortable with embryonic stem cell research.