Mindar humanoid robot Buddhist priest criticised as sacriligious

Occurred: August 2019

The appointment of Mindar, a 6-foot-4-inch, 132-pound humanoid robot, as a priest at Kyoto's Kodaiji Temple set tongues wagging, with some saying it is inappropriate, unethical, and sacriligious.

Developed by Osaka University roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, Mindar was designed to increase awareness about Buddhism, deliver sermons, and bridge the gap between the spiritual world.

Accustomed to robots in many aspects of their lives, Japanese people appear mostly to have taken to Mindar. However, westerners struggle with the concept of religious robots, with some likening Mindar to Frankenstein's monster and accusing it of being inappropriate and sacriligious.

Mindar’s abilities are currently limited to citing a preprogrammed sermon about the Heart Sutra, with the intention of 'implementing AI so Mindar can accumulate unlimited knowledge and speak autonomously.'

System 🤖

Operator: Kodaiji Temple, Kyoto
Developer: Hiroshi Ishiguro
Country: Japan
Sector: Religion
Purpose: Increase religious awareness
Technology: Robotics
Issue: Anthropomorphism; Appropriateness/need; Ethics

Research, advocacy 🧮

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Type: Issue
Published: March 2023