A Buddhist Robot Monk

Established religion and technology have always had a tricky relationship. At times, religion has outright distrusted technology; at others, it’s begrudgingly used it as a means to further its message.

One Buddhist temple in Beijing, China, however, is taking steps in the opposite direction, to show how religion and technology can go hand-in-hand.

Master Xianfian, a (human) monk at Longquan and Xian’er’s creator, said artificial intelligence could be harnessed to spread Buddhist wisdom in China.

“Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible,” he told Reuters.

Buddhism filled a gap in a fast-paced, hi-tech existence, he added. “Buddhism is something that attaches much importance to inner heart, and pays attention to the individual’s spiritual world … I think it can satisfy the needs of many people.”

Xian’er was developed as a robot in a joint project between the temple, artificial intelligence experts at Chinese universities and a technology company.

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