Robot priests are being prepped to conduct future funeral ceremonies in Japan, which could not only cut costs, but also help when no human priests are available.
Softbank’s multi-purpose robot, Pepper, has found its new calling as a priest, highlighting Tokyo’s Life Ending Industry Expo.
Funeral ceremonies can get very pricey in Japan, costing people as much as $2,189. According to The Guardian, plastic manufacturing company Nissei Eco presented Pepper the robot priest as a more cost-efficient solution since it can conduct ceremonies at just $450 per funeral.
The custom-coded Pepper robots can perform multiple functions such as chanting sutras, and even tapping a drum the same way a human Buddhist priest would. Another interesting function of the robot priest is that it also provides live-streaming of the ceremony for people who are unable to attend.
This artificial priest might just be a suitable alternative for those hoping to conduct a funeral ceremony merely for the sake of formality, but some may be seeking something more spiritual. Buddhist monk Tetsugi Matsuo questions the robot priest’s “heart” because he believes that this is where the foundation of religion lies.
Japan might still end up turning to these machines regardless since more Buddhist priests are leaving their duties in order to pursue part-time work elsewhere. Robot priests might not be such a far-fetched idea after all given that there are already hyper-realistic sex robots as well as machines breaking world records.
While these automated priests have yet to conduct any funeral ceremonies, there might be some risks involved when they do. According to The Verge, robots like Pepper are prone to being hacked and the last thing mourners want is attending the funeral of a deceased loved one while a robot priest proceeds to wreak havoc on the ceremony.
Featured Image Screenshot via YouTube/Japan Times