Robo-priests and Techno-rituals

culture Oct 04, 2019

“Artificial intelligence has developed to such an extent we thought it logical for the Buddha to transform into a robot," said the head priest at a 400 year old Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan, that recently installed a humanoid robot to teach younger generations about Buddhism. 

"Mindar" earlier this year. The robot is a 6-foot tall android,  and modeled after Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy. 

Robotics have played an increasing role in Japanese life and are seen as friendly, perhaps because their comic book culture has generally presented them that way and Westerners might look at these developments with a more suspicious eye but that has not stopped the exploration of religion and robotics. According to an article on zdnet.com.  (Click here for full article)

Ilia Delio, a professor of Christian Theology at Villanova University, offered some thoughts about this Buddhist robot, and the potential for the use of A.I. and robotics in Christian churches.

"We have these fixed philosophical ideas and A.I. challenges those ideas. It challenges Catholicism to move toward a post-human priesthood," she said.

Technology changes the way we interact with the world. Marshal McLuhan, the cultural theorist once said, “we make our tools and then our tools make us.” Technology and the communication tools we employ to negotiate life lead is to see and experience the world in certain ways. The implications for something like religion are huge. Robot priests might seem like a bit of a novelty joke, but if you look around your world right now, you can already see the intrusion of various forms of A.I. technologies into our lives from things like Alexa and Siri, to avatars and holographic guides at airports and train stations-it’s not a great leap to think that more physical versions of A.I. will be a part of our near future.

Here at Hatchery LA we are committed to exploring and reflecting on the impact of technology and communication media on our faith communities and passion projects. We’ve been talking about robotics since we started our course on Spiritual Entrepreneurship. We just started our latest cohort-think about joining us for our next launch in Winter 20!

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