I recently came across a video on Twitter talking about how a 400-year-old Japanese temple introduced a robot priest based on ‘Kannon - The Buddhist deity of mercy’.
Found intriguing! Carry on reading!
Although there has been another robotic priest in news like a robotic arm in India in the year 2017 was created to perform aarti - a ritual in Hindu puja. BlessU-2, another robot in Germany made news as a robot programmed to bless over 10,000 people (Vox).
But what’s different about Mindar - the priest robot; unlike the former examples this android will be AI-powered, as of now Mindar can recite Heart sutras in Japanese, with Chinese & English translation at Kodaiji Temple, Kyoto, Japan but soon its creators will give it ML (machine-learning) capabilities empowering Mindar to answer people seeking solution to specific spiritual and ethical problems.
Mindar is created to restore the tipping balance of faith between people and religion. Does this mean the way we perceive religion or faith might now be presented with a new vantage point? Does it change our experiences and the way we engage in ethical reasoning and decision-making? I guess this will become more apparent once we get to see the impact Mindar brings.
So, what more to Mindar! A joint project between Zen Temple and Hiroshi Ishiguro, a renown roboticist and professor of intelligent robotics at Osaka University. This aluminum and silicone body can move its torso, arms, and head to address a room full of people without any problem, is 6 feet tall and weighs 70 pounds approx, tiny video camera in its left eye (The Washington Post) and once AI-powered it could become the source of unlimited wisdom.
We are surrounded by Artificial intelligence solutions, be it chatbots, speech or image recognition, drones, smart assistant like Siri, Alexa, virtual games, etc. All performing human-like-tasks, so why should it feel constraint to give spiritual guidance.
Will Wonders never cease!