Throughout science-fiction, robots have enslaved humanity, exterminated humanity, turned the land into a barren wasteland and forced humanity to block out the sun. But no novel, film, comic book or video game has ever dared have them unleash something so terrifying upon us as … a job interview.

No, only in the real world can such horrors exist. A job interview is the next big thing for robots, if a collaborative research team working from Melbourne’s La Trobe University Business School and Japan’s NEC Corporation has its way.

Sophie is one of several “human-like” robots being engineered to conduct job interviews, enabling the processing of a much higher number of applicants. They are designed to engage people emotionally, as well as record and analyze their responses, to ascertain their employability. Of course, being machines, they’re able to accurately record vast quantities of data that the human eye might miss, such as subtle changes in facial expression.

Researchers in Germany have found that humans are capable of responding emotionally to robots with almost as much sensitivity as they would to humans, so the idea might not be as crazy as it sounds.

However, ambitions for Sophie and her like go further than mere job interviews. The research team believes that incorporating of these robots into the workplace could have a positive influence on performance; because nothing motivates people like an army of robot overlords watching over them.

Smarter than a Smartphone

Some believe robotics is the new frontier in information technology; the next stage in its evolution.

The research is an example of the progress Australia continues to make in the area of robotics. Such research has many potential benefits, considering the aid robotics technology can provide in many of Australia’s important industries.

  • Aged care: Australia has one of the world’s largest aging populations, and so has great incentive to develop new technologies that can provide assistance in the care of elderly citizens. Robot assistants can take some of the workload off the shoulders of staff in aged care facilities. Furthermore, while staff cannot always be there to assist dementia sufferers, robotics technology may provide assistants who can.
  • Mining:  Automated or remotely controlled devices can assist miners, and venture into parts of the mine that may not yet be deemed safe.
  • Education: Robotic devices with remote control, cameras and video recording technology can, and have, been used to allow people to explore and interact with a distant location. While the internet has made virtual field trips possible, robotics can take it to the next level, allowing students to go on field trips by proxy.
  • Business: The internet made teleconferencing possible, enabling meetings over long distances where previously they had to be conducted in person. Robotics technology such as that mentioned above can enable both communication and mobility in long-distance business meetings.
  • Manufacturing: Robotics technology has been embraced by the manufacturing industry, due to the repetitive nature of the tasks and the requirement for precision. Members of the manufacturing workforce are also accustomed to operating in environments incorporating heavy machinery.
  • Rise Of Robots

A Robot in Every Home

World famous robotics engineer, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, was recently named New South Wales scientist of the year, which is indicative of the interest in Australia’s advancing robotics industry. His credentials include designing underwater robots and flying weed-spraying drones, as well as mentoring the research team that designed armored robots used by US marines for marksmanship training.

He believes the robotics industry of today is the equivalent of the computer industry in the 1960s, when people were as yet unaware of the impact it would have. Little did they know those clunky mainframes would soon be present in every home, albeit it in much smaller sizes. It may only be a matter of decades before robots are present in every home.

Then it just becomes a question of who wipes us out first between the robots and computers, although it’s usually a combination of both.  However, the benefits robotics technology can provide make it an endeavor well worth pursuing, and information technology students of today may play a role in advancing this new frontier.


Matthew Flax writes for, which does its bit to advance the robotics industry by promoting a variety of IT courses and degrees from reputable tertiary learning institutions in Australia.

featured image by AlexTurton