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Technology Meeting To Be Held at MIT

By A. Arif Husain
Staff Reporter

MIT will be hosting a conference entitled "Technology and Employment" this Friday and Saturday to address the issue of unemployment in the fields of science and technology.

Many preeminent figures from MIT, Harvard Business School, Cornell University, and several local institutions will be presenters. The event is expected to generate new ideas and proposals for harnessing technological advances without increasing joblessness, according to Professor of Biology Jonathan A. King.

The impetus behind this gathering is the growing unemployment among highly skilled workers. The push towards advanced technology has caused an inverse trend by reducing the need for technically-trained workers and by replacing workers with electronics, King said.

In the midst of this technological revolution, tens of thousands of people have been laid off from the high tech industries. The newly unemployed include both highly trained workers and new entrants into the work force.

"The people who are now being laid off are the most highly trained people in history," King said, "They don't need retraining. They need the opportunity to work."

Members of the conference will emphasize the rapid changes in work structure, employment, and job creation associated with the application of advanced computing, electronic technology, and biotechnology to the production of the necessities of everyday life, King said.

The primary goal of the conference is to elucidate and formulate concrete plans to accommodate the thousands of technically-trained workers who are jobless.

"No one at this conference has the answers, but we hope to get a step closer after the conference," King said.

The conference, sponsored by the Technology and Culture Seminar and the Community Fellows Program, will consist of more than 20 seminars designed to examine various aspects of the crisis at hand. Presentation titles include "Entering the High Tech Job Market," "The Telecommunications Revolution," and "The Impact of Unemployment on Education."

(Ifung Lu contributed to the reporting of this story.)