How robotics can automate religious rituals
Advanced technologies, including robotics, have even penetrated religion in the age of digitalization.
We may soon see robotic religious leaders who will bless us, advise us, and perform religious rituals.
We truly live in the digital age. Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics, to name a few, are having a profound impact on our daily lives. An unconventional area where robotics finds significant application is religion and religious rituals. In the era of digitalization, religion is moving towards an AI. Let’s see how robotics can automate religious rituals.
Robotics and religion in the age of digitization
Robots are already here and transforming the way religious rituals are performed. This new reality where robots have replaced priests is intriguing. Let’s look at some examples of robotics used in religious rituals:
Mindar is an Android robot from Kodaiji temple in Kyoto. It is a humanoid robot made from aluminum and silicon and designed to look like Kannon Bodhisattva, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Mindar can deliver scheduled sermons to worshipers while moving his torso, arms, and head.
Mindar is not AI powered. However, the developers of the robot aim to incorporate machine learning in the future. They want the bot to give personalized and tailored feedback to followers based on their questions and doubts.
In 2017, the Protestant Church in Germany developed a robot named BlessU-2. The robot has a touch screen box, two hands and a head. He delivers blessings in five languages and emits light from his hands.
BlessU-2 blessed over ten thousand people with its pre-programmed blessings delivered by male and female voices chosen by the worshipper. For example, BlessU-2 recites biblical phrases such as “May God bless you and protect you”. People can also request a printout of the blessings and BlessU-2 will be happy to oblige.
Xian’er is an android humanoid monk from the Longquan Monastery in Beijing. The monk can do body movements, recite Buddhist mantras and scriptures, and play Buddhist music. The AI robot can also talk to people and answer their questions and doubts with Buddhist wisdom. Monk is also available as a chatbot on social media platforms like WeChat and Facebook.
SanTO stands for Sanctified Theomorphic Operator. He is a seventeen-foot-tall Christian robot that resembles Catholic saints. The purpose of the robot was to keep the user company. He performs functions similar to those of a Catholic priest while communicating through voice, touch, and visual tracking abilities. If a user says they are worried about tomorrow, SanTO will respond with a Bible quote to comfort and help them.
Religion in the age of digitalization is already changing. We have embraced technology in various religious aspects and practices through video worship, digital donations and the ability to book our tours online. Seeing changes in age-old traditional practices may seem uncomfortable to some. However, by keeping their moral assumptions and values at bay, worshipers can embrace changes that help improve practices without affecting their faith in God in any way.