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Study: Internet users shop in pajamas, find lost friends
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Invent thinking computers? Shopping in pajamas? Finding lost friends? A future driven by new technologies and the Internet will radically re-shape society sooner than one might think, according a national survey of Web users.
"We asked people what did they expect to have in about 10 years from now and people told us, 'I expect all my rooms to be wired for online in 10 years, the same way they are wired for electricity now. I expect robots, I expect thinking computers,'" said Marshall Coleman, a researcher with America Online Inc., which sponsored the random poll.
Nearly two-thirds of the 1,000 respondents said they thought scientists will invent a thinking computer within 10 years. Forty percent said they will do just about all their shopping online within the same time period.
The third annual poll showed for the first time that more than half of Internet users already shop online. Three out of four of them said they have done so in their pajamas.
Tech businesses like Microsoft are banking on what the survey showed; more people are using technology faster than predicted.
The Redmond, Washington-based company has developed a model home of the future, where just about all aspects of life are programmable. For example, someone can scan an electronic shopping list in the kitchen, which will be sent via the Internet to an online grocer that delivers the food.
"We believe that technology is really becoming very pervasive and it's going to be something natural that people use not just in their homes, but even when they carry their cellular phones or their pocket PCs," said Yusuf Mehadi, vice-president of marketing for Microsoft.
The Microsoft house even prevents salespersons from ringing the doorbell during dinner. The computer allows them only to leave a message.
Harvard professor and author Robert Putnam, who has studied the effects on society when people get together less often, presents a sobering look at the future.
"I think there is some risk that we'll believe that there is some kind of other community, a virtual community, in which you interact with people, faceless, nameless people in cyberspace and that that will be just as good as the real friends that we used to have," he said.
The Internet has in some sense brought people together. Forty-one percent of the survey respondents said they reconnected via the Internet with someone they had lost touch with -- on average 12 years ago.
Putnam said increased use of technology will be good if people use it connect more with others.
"In that kind of sense we can thhink of the Internet not as asubstitute for real connections but as an aid, a support, as an undergirding, as a way of making it more efficient for us to connect with real people," he said.
The Roper-Starch survey polled online users at least 18 years of age in August 2000. It was sponsored by AOL, which is in merger talks with Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.com.
Survey: Most U.S. adults without Web access don't want it
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