Japan: Buddhists Are Turning To ‘Mindar Robots’ To Spread Their Faith

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Japan: Buddhists Are Turning To ‘Mindar Robots’ To Spread Their Faith

AI Buddhist Priest Japan

Japan: Buddhists Are Turning To ‘Mindar Robots’ To Spread Their Faith
Pic Credit- Washington Post

By KalingaTV Bureau On Sep 1, 2019Share

Tokyo: In Japan, low fertility rates and an aging population are reducing religious affiliation. The Buddhist priests have been warning for more than a decade that their ancient tradition risks extinction. To tackle this, a Kyoto temple has settled on a new plan for connecting with the masses, one that channels ancient wisdom through the technology of the future.

Its name is “Mindar,” a mostly aluminum androgynous robotic priest who gives plain-spoken sermons that are designed to stimulate interest in Buddhist teachings, according to the machine’s designers. Standing more than six feet tall and weighing nearly 70 pounds, Mindar preaches inside Kodaiji temple, a 400-year-old temple.

Although the robot preaches, it isn’t programmed to converse with worshipers, though its sermons are translated to English and Chinese on a nearby wall, creators say. The machine isn’t equipped with machine learning algorithms, but the robot’s designers said there may come a day when artificial intelligence gives the robot some measure of autonomy, adding a strange new dimension to how religious messages are delivered.

“If an image of Buddha speaks, teachings of Buddhism will probably be easier to understand,” Tensho Goto, the chief steward of the temple in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, said during a recent news conference, according to the Japan Times. “We want many people to come to see (the robot) to think about the essence of Buddhism.”

The robot was created by a team led by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a renown roboticist and professor of intelligent robotics at Osaka University.

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