Design Museum - 4 in 10 Britons Think the Internet is a Threat to Knowledge

Design Museum: 4 in 10 Britons Think the Internet is a Threat to Knowledge

As part of its new exhibition, The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution, the Design Museum has carried out a survey on the future of manufacturing. The poll shows that just 6%, or one in 17 people in the UK, have an interest in owning a 3D printer. The large majority (71%) say they have heard not very much or nothing at all about 3D printing.

"Britain is divided into two tribes - those concerned that new technologies like the internet are destroying memory and knowledge, and unhappy with their pace of life, and those who embrace it as a powerful enabler of knowledge and who are comfortable with their busy lives," commented Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI.

The poll, which interviewed 994 people across Great Britain, gives a snapshot of the nation's attitudes towards this emerging technology. It analyses views on the pace of change and pressures brought about by radical developments in technology that are putting the individual at the centre of the design and manufacturing industry.

Key Findings

3D Printing

How much do we really know about 3D printing
- 71% of people say they know very little or nothing about 3D printers while one in five (19%) say they know at least a fair amount.

Is 3D printing the future of UK manufacturing - or just a fad?
- Only 6% of people say they are interested in owning a 3D printer, though this rose to 20% among those who know a great deal or a fair amount about 3D printers. This suggests that demand will rise if people become familiar with 3D printers and perhaps understand better how this emerging technology can be useful for them.

- Men are twice as likely as women to want a 3D printer (8% vs. 4%), and those aged 15-34 (9%) are more keen than those aged 65 and over (1%).

- Southerners are most interested (10%) in owning a 3D printer - but curiously Londoners were no different from the rest of the country (4%).

Pace of Life

I wish I could slow down the pace of my life
- 38% of people say they wish they could slow down the pace of their life. People aged 35-54 want to slow down the most (47%).

- Northerners seem to be among the most averse to change, with 42% of those interviewed in the North wanting to slow down their pace of life, compared 33% of Londoners. People living in Scotland appear to be the least frightened by the pace of change, with just 26% wishing they could slow down.

- Having a high level of access to the internet did not seem to have any direct correlation with the desire to slow down.

Is the internet improving our knowledge or impeding it?
- Just over half (53%) think that people now know more than they used to thanks to the internet, while 37% believe that people know less now because they rely on the internet too much.

- 35-54 year olds were particularly likely (60%) to agree that people know more than they used to because the internet provides so much instant information. Those with access to the internet are also more likely than those who do not to agree that people know more thanks to the internet (56% and 39% respectively).

Make Do and Mend

Throw it away or repair it?
- 3 out of 4 of us (75%) agree that people throw away too many things rather than get them repaired - 40% 'strongly agree'. The most likely to support a make do and mend approach are those aged 35 to 54, (81%), higher social grade AB (82%) and those with no access to internet (81%).

- A lower proportion of younger people aged 15-34 (64%) agree that we throw away too many things.

- Londoners (67%) are less likely to acknowledge we throw away too many objects rather than get them fixed - compared with 78% in the North and South (excluding London).

The future is being able to make everyday objects and spare parts for machines at home - even guns and knives
- The over 65s are especially likely to be concerned about the prospect of guns and knives being printed at home (40%).

- Around a third (35%) of people agree that it is a good thing people will be able to make everyday objects and spare parts at home - but an equal number (32%) are also concerned about people being able to make guns or knives at home.

- Men are more likely than women to think that manufacturing at home is a good thing (43% vs. 28%)

- 15-34 year olds are more positive (43%) about manufacturing objects from home, and this declines with age (22% among those aged 65+). The image of the old man tinkering in the shed could be a thing of the past as the YouTube generation gets interested in high tech manufacture from home.

- There's a clear regional divide. 40% in London and the South agree making everyday objects at home is a good thing, compared with around three in ten across the Midlands (31%), the North (34%) and Scotland (32%).

Should we leave the design of household items to the professionals?
- 2 in 3 people (66%) in the UK overall say that they would rather leave design issues to the professionals, though 30% of Londoners would like more input in the design of their household items (compared with 20% nationally and 15-22% in other regions).

Customised goods could be the answer to a more sustainable culture
- Around 35% agree that if consumer goods were customised they would be less likely to replace them as frequently.

Photo: Courtesy of Formlabs

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