Mindar, a robotic priest is introduced in a 400-year-old Buddhist temple – Kodaji in Koyoto, Japan for regular worship.
Mindar is a $1 million humanoid which is 6-foot tall and made of silicon and aluminum. It is modeled after Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy. Mindar was built by the robotics team at the Osaka University.
“Artificial intelligence has developed to such an extent we thought it logical for the Buddha to transform into a robot,” Tensho Goto, the chief steward of the temple, told in an interview.
“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 whether it is represented by a machine, a scrap of iron or a tree,” added Tensho.
According to Goto, a priest in the temple, the robot will help reach the younger generation to help overcome pain and ease suffering which is the goal of Buddhism.
In a poll after six months of worship, people are happy and have expressed positive comments about the robot.
“I felt a warmth you wouldn’t feel from a regular machine,” one of the temple goers said. “At first it felt a little unnatural, but the android was easy to follow. It made me think deeply about right and wrong,” said another.
Though the robot is accepted by the Japan nationals, foreigners show a repulsive attitude towards the robot.