New Church Life NCL May/June 2018 - Page 52

n e w c h u r c h l i f e : m ay / j u n e 2 0 1 8 visits. You’ll be amazed at the quality of conversation they can have! Okay, so I made all of that up. The crazy thing is that while I’m hearing of all sorts of ways robots are going to be integrated into our lives, until recently I hadn’t heard about robots doing religious work. Believe it or not, what I’ve found is that my fictitious opening isn’t as far from reality as I thought. It turns out that in 2016 a Buddhist temple on the edge of Beijing developed a robot monk who can chant mantras and explain basic tenets of faith. It’s about the same height as Yoda – standing two feet tall. While Yoda is green, Xian’er is encased in saffron-yellow robes and has a shaved head. Despite spending much of his time closeted in the spiritual calm of Longquan Temple, he wears an expression of permanent surprise. His purpose is to reach out to people who are more connected to their smartphones than their inner being. Xian’er can answer 20 simple questions, displayed on the touch-screen on his chest, about Buddhism and daily life at the 500-year-old temple. Master Xianfian, a (human) monk at Longquan and Xian’er’s creator, said artificial intelligence could be harnessed to spread Buddhist wisdom in China. The robot made appearances at a number of tech shows, generated a lot of publicity, but apparently now spends most of its life on an office shelf in deep meditation. The Germans weren’t to be outdone in the endeavor to robotize religion. Their robot, called BlessU-2, is intended to trigger debate about the f ɔ)ѡɍѡѕѥѥѕq]݅ѕ)ѼͥȁЁ́ͥѼ͕䁄ȁյ)tͅMѕ-ɕ́ѡAɽѕхЁ ɍ!͔9ͅ԰)ݡ́ѡѥѥٔ) Tȁ̀ԸԁЁх́ɍݥѠ)ɵ́х%Ё́ɕͥ́ɵ͠ɕ)M͠ȁA͠]͔́͡ݕȁٽ)QɽЁɅ͕́́ɵ̰̰́͡ɕѕٕ͔́ͅ胊q)́ɽѕЁԻt%ɕՕѕЁݥɽ٥ɥѽЁ́ݽɑ̸)ɽЁ́م͔ɕݸ+qQ́Ѽɽٽєtͅ-ɕ̸qAɽѡɕЁɔ)ɥ̰͕ѕɕѕQ䁅ɔɕхݥѠаɔٕ)ͥѥٔ Ёͥѡɍͽѡݔ݅ЁѼɕյ)ѽ́ݥѠ̸Q͔ݡɔɍɥѕɔɔɥѥt)єɽݥ͡хɥ̰ѡAɽѕхЁ ɍ)ɽ́ѕѥͥɽ́Ѽѡ Ё䁙ѥѥ)Ѽѡ́ѥ́Յ䁉͕ɕ丁Qӊé͔))ѕѼѡɽɥЁɕѕ́ɽЁqAȻt)Q́յɽЁ́Ё͕ȁɔ́ ՑЁɥЁ)չɅ̸QeٔхѡɵͥЁхЁѼݡ(