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Can Technology Save Us from the Recession?

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At an afternoon panel at Fortune Brainstorm Tech, there was a lot of discussion of technology and its role in the recession, and the reverse. Moderator Stephanie Mehta brought up a Fortune story that suggested that there was no big idea as important as the semiconductor or the browser. John Chen, CEO of Sybase disagreed, talking about the importance of mobile and green tech, while eSolar CEO Bill Gross said he thought we were on the brink of a new industrial revolution, replacing “burning stuff" with renewable energy.

Brad Johnson of McKinsey said the biggest impact of technology was not the technology itself but the applications of it, using Wal-Mart as an example. It was the role of technology as an enabler that is most important in the overall economy, he said.

About half the audience said the economy would start to recover this year or in 2010. But Chen said he disagreed because a jobless recovery isn't sustainable. He said that in this environment, it was important for companies to resist the temptation to come up with a new strategy; that spooks employees and investors. Gross said resources are scarce, but it's now easier to recruit employees, and Johnson both talked about how there is more opportunity for market share gains in a recession.

A number of questions revolved around the government's role in innovation. Chen said the environment in the United States is best for innovation, but he complained about too much regulation. Gross talked about wanting the government to make incentives for small businesses to create jobs. Chen would like to see a tax reduction for employers willing to hire more people.

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This story appears courtesy of PC Magazine.
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