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Science
07 Mar 2019

People in this 400-year-old temple worship a robot 'Goddess'

Robot 'Goddess' worshipped in 400-year-old Japanese temple

People visiting Japan's 400-year-old Kodaiji temple will soon be worshipping a new robot deity.

The administrators of the Kyoto-based temple have unveiled a robotic avatar of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, as a way to keep the younger generation connected with Buddhism.

The bot has been named 'Mindar' and can even deliver a 25-minute-long sermon to the worshippers.

Here's all about it.

In context

Robot 'Goddess' worshipped in 400-year-old Japanese temple
Mindar takes a 'gender-neutral' form

Appearance

Mindar takes a 'gender-neutral' form

Designed by Osaka University's Hiroshi Ishiguro, Mindar takes a gender-neutral form.

It evokes both masculine and feminine qualities with an open head exposing aluminum wires, plain facial features, and a mechanical lower half.

"If someone wants to treat the android as a man, there will be some elements that represent a male form and vice versa," Kohei Ogawa, Ishiguro's teammate, told The Diplomat.

Features

Plus, Mindar makes eye contact, human-like gestures

Along with the unusual 'mechanical' appearance, Mindar will also be wooing worshippers with its ability to move.

According to the researchers, the robot 'Goddess' can join its hands or move its eyes and torso while delivering sermon to the worshippers.

Plus, it can even make human-like gestures or focus on a particular subject so that it looks like it is making an eye contact.

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It delivers Sermon with detailed 'answers'

Sermon

It delivers Sermon with detailed 'answers'

The 25-minute-long sermon - a religious text called Heart Sutra - delivered by Mindar has been pre-programmed by its developers.

However, unlike most monks that just recite the text, the Android deity will also be offering some explanation for the text.

Basically, a person projected on the wall behind Mindar will ask questions about Heart Sutra while the robot will offer answers in Japanese.

This would be like a 'real-time interaction'

"Kannon Android can convey very complicated messages to visitors, which makes it easier for them to listen to the message," Ogawa told The Diplomat. "Visitors feel as if the robot and the person projected on the screen are making a real-time interaction."

Impact

Still, this is a great way to expand religious perception

The idea to introduce a robotic deity with gender-neutral features is a new take at the perception of religious deities.

According to the researchers, it diversifies how people see and worship the gods they believe in.

Notably, Mindar robot will be open to the public from March 8 as part of a two-month-long trial run; following this, its data will be analyzed for updates.

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Most asked questions

How are people reacting to these robotic gods?

Are there any other temples that have robotic gods?

Where else robots are being used?

Can robots do heavy-lifting jobs?

More questions

How are people reacting to these robotic gods?

Asked on 07-03-2019 by Arjun Balasubramanium

Answered by NewsBytes

The researchers say people are surprised from the move, but they hold no prejudices against it.

Are there any other temples that have robotic gods?

Asked on 07-03-2019 by Rishika Singhal

Answered by NewsBytes

No, this appears to be the only one right now.

Where else robots are being used?

Asked on 07-03-2019 by Parakram Jayaraman

Answered by NewsBytes

Robots are being used in a range of places such as hotels, airports, and factories.

Can robots do heavy-lifting jobs?

Asked on 07-03-2019 by Divya Gupta

Answered by NewsBytes

Yes, there are many robots from popular tech companies that can do heavy-lifting jobs.

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