Wednesday, August 23, 2017

burial by robot

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....
The robot was on display on Wednesday at a funeral industry fair, the Life Ending Industry Expo, in Tokyo, shown off by plastic molding maker Nissei Eco.
With the average cost of a funeral in Japan reaching in excess of £20,000, according to data from Japan’s Consumer Association in 2008, and human priests costing £1,700, Nissei Eco is looking to undercut the market with Pepper available for just £350 per funeral.
Given the glowing devotion that the Japanese can cast over death -- and the income derived therefrom by religious institutions -- this funereal 'advance' is awkward at a minimum and culturally tumultuous at worse.

PS. A Japanese movie I really liked was "Departures," the tale of a young man who learns the art of preparing the dead. Whatever its flaws, the movie was touching as no robot can ever be.


  1. And the novice Zen Monk asked his master, "Does a Robotic Buddhist Priest have Buddhanature?"

  2. The story links to another article on sex robots. I wonder if robot priests will one day molest children and novices.