Wait for it; it's coming... roboreligion.
What am I talking about? Well, K.M. spotted this important little article and I had to blog about it, because as you can tell, this week the focus of articles people were sending me seemed to have been AI, robots, analogue systems, and coming changes to society and culture. In this case, a robot-"priest" in a Buddhist temple in Japan:
Now, get this:
The Kodaji Temple, in a partnership with the robotics team at Osaka University, unveiled "Mindar" earlier this year. The robot is a 6-foot tall android, made of silicon and aluminum and modeled after Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy who preaches what is called the "Heart Sutra" in Japanese, with English and Chinese translations projected on a screen for tourists.
"Artificial intelligence has developed to such an extent we thought it logical for the Buddha to transform into a robot," Tensho Goto, the chief steward of the temple, told AFP. "Obviously a machine doesn't have a soul, but Buddhist faith isn't about believing in God. It's about following Buddha's path, so it doesn't matter whether it is represented by a machine, a scrap of iron or a tree."
Now, I'm not a Buddhist, but know a few people who are, and I cannot imagine them as being entirely comfortable with this development, notwithstanding the attempt to rationalize and justify this development by an appeal to Buddhist tradition and doctrine. But the development is there, and it's only a matter of time before the nutters in charge of the "progressivized churches" will think this is a good idea and jump on the bandwagon. After all, it's a way to "save money" on the overhead expense of having to pay clergy salaries. In the post-Vatican II world, where it became possible to fulfill "masses of obligation" by attending the Saturday afternoon "quickie" mass lasting all of thirty-five minutes, and in a world where some Protestant churches actually proposed (and I believe in a few cases implemented) "drive through communion," why not? Indeed, with the technocratic push to recognize robots as "legal persons," the pressure could be put on churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples to recognize this status within their communities (or lose their tax exemption), and viola! one can remove the last vestiges of humanity from the few institutions that might have been capable of opposing the galloping rush into transhumanist madness. Many of those progressivized institutions have already "recognized" the whole transgender effort, and indeed, some "Anglican" "bishops" sport mitres in the rainbow colors to show how inclusive they are. Having torn down traditional ordination, what's to prevent them from "ordaining" a robot to the ministry? Answer: nothing whatsoever. How convenient it would be for diocesan bishops to have robo-co-adjutors to travel the diocese and perform confirmations and so on, or pre-record a sermon for the robo-rabbi to deliver at temple, or robo-moyls/mohalim for bris. I know that sounds insane, but we're already in the world of the sex robot, so why not?
And, while we're crawling to the end of the twig of high octane speculation, we might as well acknowledge that the coming move to robo-deacons, robo-presbyters, robo-bishops, robo-rabbis and robo-moyls will provoke yet more resistance, and it will provoke something else. Earlier this week I blogged about the efforts to extend the legal definitions of personhood to encompass and incorporate any machine-AI entity as a tool, or "extension" of persons. As robot costs come down, one can thus even envision a point when members of parishes, synagogues, and so on, will send their robot-avatar to church or temple to fulfill their "spiritual obligations." Wait for it, it's coming.
OK. Rant over. See you on the flip side...
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