Robot Monk Gives Pearls of Buddhist Wisdom
April 26, 2016
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Need advice on the stages of enlightenment or the Four Noble Truths? In Beijing you can ask a robot monk. According to Reuters, a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing has decided to ditch traditional ways and use technology to attract followers. The robot monk can chant Buddhist mantras, move via voice command, and hold a simple conversation.
Named Xian’er, the 2-foot tall robot at the Longquan temple can hold a conversation by answering about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and daily life, listed on his screen, and perform seven types of motions on his wheels.
Master Xianfan, Xian’er’s creator, said the robot monk was the perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China, through the fusion of science and Buddhism. “Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible,” said Xianfan.
Xianfan said Buddhism filled a gap for people in a fast-changing, smart-phone dominated society. The robot monk was developed as a joint project between a technology company and artificial intelligence experts from some of China’s top universities.