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PITTSFIELD — Three Berkshire entities have come together to form an eight-week webinar course designed to better inform the public about new and emerging technologies and how they affect people's daily lives.

"The Impact of Transformational Work and Society" series will feature regional, national and global experts discussing, via Zoom, key technologies that impact large segments of society. The series will focus on how these new methods impact rural areas like Berkshire County.

"The future is happening, whether we're ready or not, and we might as well get ready," said Megan Whilden, executive director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College, which developed the webinar series with 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Innovation Center.

The series begins at 1:30 p.m. Thursday with a dialogue between Elisabeth Reynolds, director of the Center for Work of the Future at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stephen Boyd, the CEO of Boyd Technologies and board chairman of the BIC. The remaining sessions will take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Nov. 12.

Topics will include artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, medicine, education and working remotely, Whilden said. Twenty-five speakers, including authors, educators, technology officers and state and local politicians, will participate in the eight webinars.

The series was organized by an ad hoc committee of four OLLI members — Robert Braddick, Katherine Kidd, James Rosenstein and Arthur Sherman — who approached BIC Executive Director Ben Sosne with the idea. The four OLLI members, retirees who all now live in the Berkshires, used their extensive professional connections to arrange for the speakers.

"They have a tremendous amount of experience and expertise and curiosity and have all brought it to the table to create not just a great program, but a conversation that we hope can continue," Sosne said, referring to the OLLI members.

Kidd is a retired college professor who holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

"There are a lot of people who are afraid of these technologies, and until they know more about them and understand them, there are many different ways they can have their impact," she said. "We hope that people will also see that the Berkshires are already part of this in a very positive way.

"I think sometimes people think the Berkshires are just kind of a wasteland in terms of this work," she said. "Part of the reason we have representatives from the local community is to show people that this revolution is here."

"While we're focused on the Berkshires, we also feel that this could be a model for other rural communities," said Braddick, a retired management consultant. "This is about harvesting the talent in these topical areas and reaching beyond our immediate borders to bring in expertise and packaging it in a class that will promote and accelerate community readiness."

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-281-2755.


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