AI News, Pepper Now Available at Funerals as a More Affordable Alternative to Human Priests

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.

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.

There are some subdivisions of Buddhism (including Tibetan Buddhism) that encourage the use of technologies like prayer wheels to help make prayer more efficient: Spinning a prayer wheel (which can even be done electrically), they believe,will have a similar spiritual effect to reciting the prayer inscribed on it.

Robots in Japan are now Buddhist priests

It seems there is literally no job that is safe from the rising tide of automation, including those who guide us into the afterlife.

(Perhaps Pepper should leave funereal rites to other, more qualified robots.) It costs 50,000 yen (about $460) for a robot to lead a service, whereas a human Buddhist priest can cost up to 240,000 yen ($2,200).

The future of funerals? Robot priest launched to undercut human-led rites

In Japan robots can serve as companions, helpers for the elderly, entertainment bots and even sexual partners, but now SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper has put itself up for hire as a Buddhist priest for funerals.

Taking the German blessing bot’s idea and running with it, Pepper’s new code will let it chant sutras in a computerised voice while tapping a drum, providing a cheaper alternative to a human priest to see your loved ones off into the eternal sleep.

With Japan’s population ageing and shrinking, many Buddhist priests receive less financial support from their communities, prompting some to find part-time work outside their temple duties, said Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive adviser, who suggested Pepper could step in when a human wasn’t available.

Robot performing Japanese funeral rites shows no one's job is safe

Cemetery Show, where Softbank's Pepper robot demonstrated its ability to perform Buddhist funeral rites.  Draped in traditional Japanese funeral garb, Pepper not only presided over a faux death ceremony, it also chanted Buddhist sutras, taking over the usual role of a human monk during such ceremonies.  So far, Pepper isn't actually performing any real funeral rites, but Japan's Nissei Eco developed the funeral software for Pepper as an alternative when a Buddhist monk isn't available, or when the family can't afford the more expensive human practitioner (the service will cost about $450 versus the thousands of dollars usually spent for a human, according to CNBC).  Does it sound and look spooky as hell?

Pray with Pepper, Japan’s New Robotic Buddhist Priest

Pepper was exhibited onWednesday atthe Life Ending Industry Expo, a funeral industry fair inTokyo, where the bot chanted sutras ina computerized voice while beating a drum, Raw Story reported.

The average cost ofa funeral inJapan can be ashigh as $26,000, according to2008 data fromJapan's Consumer Association, and human priests are a pretty significant chunk, costing asmuch asalmost $2,200.

Buddhist priest Tetsugi Matsuo attended the expo, saying that he wanted tosee forhimself if Pepper could 'impart the ‘heart' aspect toa machine because the ‘heart' is the foundation ofreligion.'

The population is expected tofall from128 million people tofewer 100 million by2050, so roboticists are working very hard tocreate perfect humanoids who talk and walk even more likehumans tomaintain a certain quality oflife inJapan, CBS news reported.

A Japanese company just unveiled a robot priest that will read scriptures at Buddhist funerals

Japanese company Nisseieco Co. Ltd. unveiled a "robot priest" they have programmed to help with tasks at Buddhist temples, including the reading of Buddhist scripture during funeral ceremonies....

This Robot Is A Buddhist Priest

Japanese company Nisseieco Co., Ltd. Has unveiled a 'robot priest' that can operate at Buddhist temples and even recite Buddhist scripture during funeral ceremonies. The humanoid robot named...