A 400-year-old temple in Japan is attempting to hot-wire interest in Buddhism with a robotic priest it believes will change the face of the religion – despite critics comparing the android 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 it could one day acquire unlimited wisdom.
“This robot will never die, it will just keep updating itself and evolving,” said priest Tensho Goto. “That’s the beauty of a robot. It can store knowledge forever and limitlessly.
“With AI we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It’s changing Buddhism.”
The adult-sized robot began service earlier this year and is able to move its torso, arms and head. But only 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.