Mindar robot Buddhist priest

Occurred: August 2019

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

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

It appears Japanese people, accustomed to robots in many aspects of their lives, have mostly taken to Mindar. However, westerners have struggled with the concept of a religious robot, which some have likened to Frankenstein's monster. 

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

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

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: March 2023