Just 21 per cent of US residents believe the next Bill Gates will come from that country, according to a new survey on internet attitudes released on Wednesday.

About 27 per cent of respondents said they believed the next wildly successful technology entrepreneur will come from China, and another 22 per cent said Japan, according to the poll, conducted earlier this month by polling firm Zogby International and public-relations firm 463 Communications.

It's not surprising that only a fifth of respondents chose the US as the home of the founder of the next Microsoft, said Tom Galvin, a partner in 463. Most residents seem to understand that the US now competes in a global economy, he said.

"It doesn't mean that the United States is slipping, it's that other countries are catching up," Galvin said. "Americans have a very firm and sophisticated understanding of the competitiveness we're dealing with. I don't think they resent it, but they want to know what we're going to do about it."

"It was a bit curious that only 13 per cent of respondents chose India as incubator of the next Gates", Galvin said.

The survey, of 1,203 adults also compared respondents' attitudes about the internet compared to earlier technologies.

Asked 'what would make it harder for you to work, your car not starting or the loss of internet and email access?', an overwhelming 78 per cent sided with the car, and only 10 per cent chose the internet. When Galvin has asked the same question of friends in the public-transportation friendly Washington area, the responses ran about 50-50, he said. Eight per cent of respondents chose the "neither/other" option.

"I didn't think the internet was going to beat [the car], but I thought it was going to compete," he said.

The internet fared better against the printing press. Asked which was the greater invention, 32 per cent of respondents said the internet, while 65 per cent said the printing press. "It's going to be one of the interesting debates we're going to have over the next several years," Galvin said.

But respondents said they still prefer the evening news over citizen-created videos. Seventy per cent said they prefer to watch the news to get information on an event, while only about 20 per cent chose a citizen video.

And asked if the average 12-year-old or the average member of the Congress knew more about the internet, the respondents voted heavily against the politicians. Eighty-three per cent chose the 12-year-old, and only 10 per cent chose the politician.