Mindar The Robot Buddhist Priest Offers A Blessing

Yes, they have a robot buddhist priest in Japan. Its name is Mindar. They have everything in Japan.


(Mindar the robotic buddhist priest video)

Preaching in the Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto, the aluminum and silicone robot priest stands almost two meters tall.

Designed to look like Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy, the $1 million machine is an attempt to reignite people’s passion for their faith in a country where religious affiliation is on the decline.

For now, Mindar is not AI-powered. It just recites the same preprogrammed sermon about the Heart Sutra over and over. But the robot’s creators say they plan to give it machine-learning capabilities that’ll enable it to tailor feedback to worshippers’ specific spiritual and ethical problems.

“This robot will never die; it will just keep updating itself and evolving,” said Tensho Goto, the temple’s chief steward. “With AI, we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It’s changing Buddhism.”

Science fiction readers can't wait for the robotic clergy. In his 1971 story Good News From The Vatican, writer Robert Silverberg tells the story of a robot cardinal who might one day become pope.

This is the morning everyone has waited for, when at last the robot cardinal is to be elected Pope. There can no longer be any doubt of the outcome... a compromise is in the making. All factions are now agreed on the selection of the robot. This morning I read in Osservatore Romano that the Vatican computer itself has taken a hand in the deliberations. The computer has been strongly urging the candidacy of the robot. I suppose we should not be surprised by this loyalty among machines...
(Read more about Silverberg's robot pope)

Clifford Simak wrote on a similar theme in his 1981 novel Project Pope.


(Project Pope by Clifford Simak [cover])

I should also mention Philip K. Dick's Padre booth from his 1969 novel Galactic Pot-Healer:

Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random. The marker came to rest at Zen.

"Tell me your torments," the Padre said, in an elderly voice marked with compassion. And slowly; it spoke as if there were no rush, no pressures. All was timeless.

Joe said "I haven't worked for seven months and now I've got a job that takes me out of the Sol system entirely, and I'm afraid. What if I can't do it? What if I've lost my skill?

The Padre's weightless voice floated back reassuringly to him. "You have worked and not worked. Not working is the hardest work of all."

Fans of Futurama may recall this depiction of a "bot mitzvah".


("Bot-Mitzvah" from Futurama)

Don't miss 'Electronic Mufti' May Issue Machine Fatwas and Information Age 'Pray-O-Mat' if you're as absorbed in this topic as I am.

Via Vox.

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