The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will host a "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangout on "Robots" with five experts in robotics, including Dr. Robin Murphy from Texas A&M's Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

We the Geeks will be held today (Aug. 9) at 2 p.m. EDT.

The featured experts will:

  • Discuss the state of the art in robotics;
  • The impact on the manufacturing and health care sector, and the use of robotics technology in search and rescue after disasters;
  • Address the potential for this technology to create new jobs and the impact on our quality of life;
  • Debate the question of whether robots will "steal more jobs than create new jobs."

The conversation will be moderated by Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will feature:

  • Rodney Brooks, president of Rethink Robotics;
  • Daniela Rus, director of computer science and artificial intelligence laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Matthew Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University;
  • Robin Murphy, Raytheon Professor at Texas A&M University and TEES CRASAR director; and
  • Allison Okamura, professor at Stanford University.

In June 2011, President Obama announced the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) to develop robots that can work with humans to extend and augment human skills, enabling new synergistic capabilities. Robotics has since been cited as one of a dozen disruptive technologies that will change the way people live and work. Studies suggest over a million jobs could be created in robotics in the next five years and conservative estimates point to economic impact exceeding $100 billion by 2025. In particular, robotics is poised to have an impact in several sectors:

  • Manufacturing: Robotics is an important component of next generation automation technologies in which robots and humans work together, enabling flexibility and rapid reconfiguration of assembly lines, which in turn allows for mass customization of products.
  • Healthcare: The multibillion-dollar medical robotics industry is in its infancy. Robots can assist professionals in medical procedures, rehabilitation, and in-home monitoring, providing smart sensing, robot manipulation and decision analytics to augment human skills.
  • First response and disaster recovery: Robots can play an important role augmenting human rescue workers after disasters, by providing eyes and ears on the scene even before humans can arrive.
  • Space: Robotics science and technology enables us to explore the solar system in search of answers to fundamental questions about how we got here and are we alone in the universe, enhances our ability to build and maintain observatories in space to study Earth and the cosmos, and augments humans in space to improve the safety and efficiency of crewed missions.
  • Education: A skilled, knowledgeable, motivated workforce is surely our nation's most important strategic resource. Robotics attracts students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in increasing numbers. Robotics can play a vital role by encouraging our children's nascent interest in STEM, and helping them to prepare for a rapidly changing future economy.

At the same time, even as we make impressive strides in robotics technology, concerns about robots taking away human jobs and independence have become more frequent.