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"Science fiction is really sociological studies of the future, things that the writer believes are going to happen by putting two and two together."
- Ray Bradbury

Robot Pope  
  An artificially intelligent robotic cardinal ascends to the Throne of St. Peter.  

It can often be difficult to choose a new pope; factions within the Vatican argue with passion. Sometimes, a compromise candidate is the only answer.

"If he's elected," says Rabbi Mueller, "he plans an immediate time-sharing agreement with the Dalai Lama and a reciprocal plug-in with the head programmer of the Greek Orthodox church, just for starters..."

"What does he look like?" Miss Harshaw asks.

Rabbi Mueller removes his sunglasses... "I can tell you that his Eminency is tall and distinguished, with a fine voice and a gentle smile..."

"But he's mounted on wheels, isn't he?" Kenneth persists.

"On treads," replies the rabbi, giving Kenneth a fiery, devastating look. "Treads, like a tractor has. But I don't think treads are spiritually inferior to feet, or, for that matter, to wheels..."

From Good News From the Vatican, by Robert Silverberg.
Published by Unknown in 1971
Additional resources -

Some people hope that a robot pope will encourage technologically-minded young people to join the Church.

Compare to the padre booth from Galactic Pot-Healer (1960) by Philip K. Dick and the proselytizing robot from Cities in Flight (1951) by James Blish.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Good News From the Vatican
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Silverberg
  Tech news articles related to Good News From the Vatican
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Silverberg

Robot Pope-related news articles:
  - Robot 'Minister' Performs Wedding Ceremony
  - I-Fairy Robot Minister Performs Wedding Ceremony
  - Texas Couple Married By Computer
  - Robots Converse, But Should They Count In A Minyan?
  - Minister Wants To Convert Artificial Intelligences To Christianity
  - BlessU-2 Robot Priest Celebrates 500th Reformation Anniversary

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Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House

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