The latest Kodaiji priest, constructed of silicone and aluminum, can render sermons and move around to engage with worshipers.
Mindar is the robot’s name. Designed to appear like Kannon, the $1 million machine is not AI-powered. It simply recites over and over the same pre-programmed homily about the Heart Sutra. However the robot’s inventors say they plan to bestow it machine-learning capabilities that’ll allow it to tailor input to worshipers’ specific ethical and spiritual problems. “This robot will never die; it will just keep updating itself and evolving,” stated Tensho Goto, the temple’s chief keeper. “With AI, we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It’s changing Buddhism.” As more secular communities start to implement robotics — AI-powered, in various cases and in others, not — it holds to alter how persons experience faith. It may too change how we engage in decision-making and ethical reasoning, which is a large part of religion.
Japanese worshipers who see Mindar The Priest are not too bothered by inquiries about the hazards of siliconizing spirituality reportedly. That’s no surprise given that robots are so prevalent in the country already, notably in the religious domain. “Mindar’s metal skeleton is exposed, and I think that’s an interesting choice — its creator, Hiroshi Ishiguro, is not trying to make something that looks totally human,” remarked Natasha Heller, a University of Virginia associate professor of Chinese religions. She said that the godhead Kannon, upon whom Mindar is premised, is an optimal prospect for cyborgization because the Lotus Sutra expressly says Kannon is able manifest in differing forms — whatever shapes will best come across with the humans of a given place and time.
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