Make way for robot priest
The world is going tech-friendly, then why should religion stay behind?
A 400-year-old temple in Japan is trying to rekindle interest in Buddhism with a robotic priest. The temple authorities believe the robot will change the face of the religion.
The android Kannon, based on the Buddhist deity of mercy, preaches sermons at Kodaiji temple in Kyoto, and its human colleagues predict that with artificial intelligence it could one day acquire unlimited wisdom.
This robot will never die, it will just keep updating itself and evolving. The adult-sized robot began service earlier last year and is able to move its torso, arms and head.
But only its hands, face and shoulders are covered in silicone to replicate human skin.
Clasping its hands together in prayer and speaking in soothing tones, the rest of the droid’s mechanical parts are clearly visible.
Wiring and blinking lights fill the cranial cavity of its open-top head and snake around its gender-neutral, aluminium body.
A tiny video camera installed in the left eye completes an eerie, cyborg-like frame seemingly lifted straight out of a dystopian Hollywood sci-fi thriller.
Developed at a cost of almost $1m in a joint project between the Zen temple and renowned robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University, the humanoid — called Mindar — teaches about compassion and of the dangers of desire, anger and ego.