First Couple Tackles Millennium Issues

White House takes on issues of the new millennium

The President and First Lady took to cyberspace recently to discuss health and privacy issues of the next millennium. By broadcast and the Internet the First Couple discussed the advancement of technology and genetic research in the years to come.

The guests of honor were Dr. Vinton Cerf, a creator of the Internet, and Eric Lander, a professor of biomedical research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was the eighth in a series of what the White House is calling "Millennium Evenings". The discussion was broadcast live over the Internet and also on a satellite feed.

President Clinton used the evening to renew his calls for closing the technology gap between rich and poor Americans. The President also spoke of his concerns about privacy when it comes to scientific research, especially in areas of genetic research.

Dr. Vinton Cerf answered question from the audience and questions sent via e-mail. Dr. Cerf played a major role in the development of the Internet and Internet-related data packet and security technologies. President Clinton awarded Dr. Cerf the U.S. Medal of Technology Dr. Cerf in 1997.

Dr. Eric Lander answered questions relating to genetic research. Dr. Lander is using his gentic research to understand cancer, diabetes, hypertension and other diseases. He received the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship in 1987 for his work in these fields.

The debate on the use of the Internet was chosen this time because of the influence the computer has had on our lives, both personally and professionally. The use of computers has in turn revolutionized the mapping of human genes. In fact, one project Dr. Eric Lander is working on will soon identify all the estimated 100,000 genes in human DNA and determine the sequences of chemical bases that make up that DNA. There are 3 billion chemical bases, and without the advancements in computer technology this would never have been possible.

Millennium Evenings at the White House are a series of lectures and debates that focus on what the wold will be like in the year 2030, and what changes happening now will have most affected our lives by then.

Previous millennium evenings have been held on topics ranging from women’s rights to the historical influence of the new millennium on religion and music.

DATE: 10/14/99

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