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Want to predict which new technologies will have a chance to gain widespread adoption in the coming years? One way might be to look at how people rely on technology today and might in the future, as revealed in a recent report [pdf] from Intel.

The survey from Intel asked 1,000 US adults the extent to which they rely on technology for various daily tasks.

The area in which people have most heavily integrated tech into their lives is in staying in touch with friends and family. Fully 53% say they rely on technology “heavily” for this purpose, and another 38% rely on tech “somewhat” for keeping in touch.

Tech has also proven useful for paying bills, as almost half (46%) of American adults now heavily rely on tech tools to keep up-to-date with their personal accounts.

Technology isn’t used as heavily for pursuing personal interests and hobbies (35%) or shopping for essentials (27%), but the vast majority of adults rely on technology at least somewhat for these activities.

For now, the fewest number of adults (18%) are using tech heavily in order to manage the home, though there’s plenty of interest in this from parents.

What Might Change in the Future?

Fast forward 50 years, and people expect that they’ll be integrating tech into their lives at a much greater rate than now.

One of the biggest predicted changes is for using tech to manage the home. While only about one-quarter (27%) of adults today lean heavily on tech for this purpose, more than two-thirds (69%) believe they will 50 years from now. That suggests that people envision strong potential for smart home devices, in line with a recent Consumer Technology Association (CTA) forecast calling for a 41% increase in smart home unit sales this year. In fact, a separate report, from GfK, found respondents believing that the smart home would be the emerging technology with the biggest impact on their lives.

Another large forecasted change from consumers relates to commuting and traveling, with two-thirds (67%) believing people will rely heavily on tech for commuting in 50 years compared to 24% doing so now. That most likely reflects the emergence of autonomous vehicles, which three-quarters of American adults feel will change the world.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of respondents to Intel’s survey also feel that people will rely heavily on tech to shop for essentials in 50 years’ time. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to have a real impact here: 1 in 4 Millennials already believe that within 5 years they’ll be comfortable letting AI proactively order everyday household items for them.

Returning to the way in which tech is most-used today – keeping in touch with friends and family – and there’s an interesting caveat to its use. Fully 56% of respondents feel that in 50 years technology will result in over-dependence, with people spending less time interacting with each other. That compares with only about one-third who instead feel that technology will make it easier for people to communicate with each other.

In fact, people becoming isolated from each other and only interacting with technology is one of the most worrying potential outcomes that people hold about technology in the next 50 years.

That’s certainly a sobering thought, even if robots are cleaning homes and stocking fridges…

About the Data: The results are based on a May 2018 survey of 1,000 US adults (18+)

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