The Japanese company Nissei Eco Co. has developed software for the robot “Pepper”, created by the corporation SoftBank Group Corp. Now this robot humanoid has a new profession – a Buddhist priest for carrying out funeral rites.
Pepper was first introduced to the public in 2014. Now, thanks to the new software, he learned to read aloud sutras and knock on the drum – these actions are an integral part of the Buddhist funeral ceremony.
The emergence of a new “electronic monk” has a strong social and economic basis. In recent decades, Japan is experiencing a demographic crisis – the population of the country is rapidly aging and shrinking. In these conditions, many Buddhist priests receive less money for their ritual services, which forces them to seek out part-time work outside their temples. A special robot for burial can take the place of a priest when he is inaccessible to parishioners. In addition, his work is cheaper – about $ 450 for a full rite, instead of $ 2,200, which is usually paid to a monk-man.
Pepper in his new role was presented at the exhibition of the funeral industry Life Ending Industry Expo, which is currently taking place in Tokyo. So far, on account of the robot does not appear any of the held ceremony. Whether his services will be in demand, or the inhabitants of Japan will remain true to the age-old traditions – time will tell .