Elon University

Surveys XVI and XVII 2023-24

Experts Weigh in on the Benefits and Harms of Digital Change by 2035 and Examine Potential Impact of AI by 2040

In 2023 experts shared insights in two canvassings: In the first they predicted the best and worst of digital change by 2035; in the second (to be published in 2024), they weighed in on the most likely gains and losses for people and society by 2040, as AI impact accelerates

In 2023, we are hosting our 16th and 17th canvassings of experts since the early 2000s. We are asking them to share their thoughts in answer to two big questions. The first report, “Experts Predict the Best and Worst Changes in Digital Life By 2035,” is available now. The second report – an examination of how AI might influence various dimensions of life – will be published in early 2024. Each report contains thousands of predictions regarding the likely evolution of humans and digital technologies in an age of accelerating change.

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Report 1: ‘Experts Predict the Best and Worst Changes in Digital Life By 2035‘ – Released June 21, 2023

The content for this report was gathered in a canvassing of experts conducted in early 2023 by Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and Pew Research Center. They were asked to predict the best and worst of digital change by 2035. This report shares thousands of predictions in reply to the following question:

We seek your insights about the future impact of digital change. As you look ahead to 2035, what are the best and most beneficial changes, and what are the most harmful and menacing changes that are likely to occur in digital technology and humans’ use of digital systems? We are particularly interested in your thoughts about how developments in digital technology and humans’ uses of it might improve human-centered development of digital tools and systems; human connections, governance and institutions; human rights; human knowledge; and human health and well-being.

More than a third, 37%, said they were more concerned than excited about the digital change to come by 2035, and 42% said they were equally concerned and excited about what they expected to see as they imagine the next decade-plus; 79% expressed a fairly large degree of worry over how current digital trends might influence daily life in the near future, also saying they do expect significant new benefits due to digital change in the years to come.

Read the report for full details.


Report 2: How will advancing AI impact life by 2040?

In our second canvassing, conducted in Fall 2023, the experts were asked to share their opinions about how people’s uses of rapidly advancing AI might influence specific dimensions of life by 2040. This was the first in our 20-year series of reports in which Pew Research no longer served as a partner. The report with analysis will be published in February 2024. It will share thousands of predictions in reply to the following question:

Considering the likely changes created by the proliferation of AI in individuals’ lives and in society’s social, economic and political systems, how will life have changed by 2040? What stands out as most significant to you? Why? What is most likely to be gained and lost in the next 15 or so years?