Robot Priests for Funerals

In Japan gibt es jetzt nicht nur automatisierte Friedhöfe und Beerdigungen für Roboter-Hunde, sondern demnächst auch buddhistische Robot-Priester für die Beerdigung: Pepper Now Available at Funerals as a More Affordable Alternative to Human Priests.

In Japan, a plastic moulding company called Nissei Eco (which also does funeral arrangements, I guess) is planning to introduce SoftBank's Pepper robot as a cheaper substitute for human priests reading sutras at Buddhist funerals.

Nissei Eco is offering the small, white, and aggressively shiny humanoid robot, suitably attired in the robe of a Buddhist monk, as an optional add-on in their a la carte menu of funeral services. Pepper can chant sutras from four major Japanese Buddhist sects, can be set up to livestream the ceremony to anyone who can't be there in person, and appears to be able to bow when appropriate. At least with the livestreaming, Pepper does offer a feature that most humans can't. And with a per-funeral cost of just 50,000 yen (about $450), the robot costs “significantly less than the cash offerings typically made to Buddhist priests,” according to the Japan Times.

Der angesprochene Pepper-Bot wurde damals als „Personal Robot“ mit einer „emotional engine“ für einsame Senioren vorgestellt.