Author Topic: Buddhist temple in Japan puts faith in robot priest  (Read 7465 times)


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Buddhist temple in Japan puts faith in robot priest
« on: October 19, 2019, 08:19:48 AM »
Japanese monks are very innovative and creative. People who want to devote themselves to spreading Buddhism is decreasing, using a robot to give Dharma teaching could help to solve the problem of shortage of Dharma teacher in some part of the world.

Young people will find it interesting to listen to a human-like robot giving advice.


Buddhist temple in Japan puts faith in robot priest

Thursday, 15 Aug 2019

Kyoto: A 400-year-old temple in Japan is trying to hot-wire interest in Buddhism with a robotic priest it believes will change the face of the religion – despite critics comparing it to “Frankenstein’s monster”.

The android Kannon, based on the Buddhist deity of mercy, preaches sermons at Kodaiji temple in Kyoto. Its human colleagues predict that with artificial intelligence (AI), it could acquire unlimited wisdom.

“This robot will never die. It will just keep updating itself and evolving, ” priest Tensho Goto said.

“That’s the beauty of a robot. It can store knowledge forever.

“With AI, we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It’s changing Buddhism, ” added Goto.

The adult-sized robot began service earlier this year and can move its torso, arms and head. Its hands, face and shoulders are covered in silicone to replicate human skin.

Clasping its hands together in prayer and speaking in soothing tones, the rest of the droid’s mechanical parts are clearly visible.

Wiring and blinking lights fill the cranial cavity of its open-top head and snake around its gender-neutral, aluminium body. A tiny video camera is installed in its left eye.

Developed for almost US$1mil (RM4.1mil) in a joint project between the Zen temple and renowned robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University, the droid – called Mindar – teaches compassion and the dangers of desire, anger and ego.With religion’s influence on daily life flat-lining in Japan, Goto hopes the robot priest can reach youths in a way traditional monks can’t.

A recent Osaka University survey showed a wide range of feedback from those who have seen the android at work, with many surprised at how “human” it looked.“Westerners have been the most upset by the robot, ” said Goto, noting largely positive feedback from Japanese visitors.

“It could be the influence of the Bible, but Westerners have compared it to Frankenstein’s monster.

“Japanese people don’t possess any prejudices against robots. We were brought up on comics where robots are our friends.

“Obviously, a machine doesn’t have a soul. But Buddhist faith isn’t about believing in God. It’s about following Buddha’s path, so it doesn’t matter if it is represented by a machine, a scrap of iron or a tree.” — AFP


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Re: Buddhist temple in Japan puts faith in robot priest
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2019, 06:58:56 AM »
As time changes, the method used to spread the Dharma has to change as well. In the past, there is no internet, people has to go to the temple to receive the Dharma. Nowadays, people communicate using internet and mobile phone. In order to reach out to the public, monks have to also use modern technology to spread the Dharma.

I am glad to know that in Japan, there are still sincere practitioners who want to spread the Dharma. They think of different way to reach out to people. For example, instead of chanting, some monks in Japan rap the Buddhist scripture, or sing it out with nice melody.

I hope Buddhism can continue to grow and flourish in Japan. In our modern time, we need a faith to rely on because faith will help us to strengthen our mind.