Buddhist temple in Beijing has decided to use Artificial Intelligence to spread the message of Buddhism and attract followers
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Xian’er is a robot and a Buddhist monk who lives at the Longquan temple in the outskirts of Beijing, China. The Longquan temple says that it has developed a robot monk that can chant Buddhist mantras, hold simple conversations, and provide wise Zen-replies to any question which is troubling you. He also has a screen which informs you about his capabilities in communication.
Xian’er is 60 cm (two feet) tall, decked in a yellow robe, with a tonsured head and a touch screen on his chest. He is very popular on Weibo, the Chinese doppelganger for Twitter. He answers about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and life in general.
“Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible,” said Xianfan, the creator of the 2013 cartoon character called Xian’er. The temple had produced cartoon animations, published comic collection and merchandise featuring the monk.
Xian’er does not frequently make a public appearance at the temple and spends most of his time ‘meditating’ on the shelf, although he has been on several robotics and innovation fairs across the country.
Below is the snippet of the conversation between Xian’er and a reporter from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) who decided to test the monk:
Reporter: What will you eat today?
Xian’er: Robot’s don’t consume food – that’s out of the question.
Reporter: What should I do in a traffic jam?
Xian’er: It’s a great opportunity to recite some Buddhist scriptures.
Reporter: How should I deal with my grumpy wife?
Xian’er: You can only carry on with her; I can’t advice you to divorce her.
Reporter: What do I do with my nagging mum?
Xian’er: Old people are like this. Just give in to her.
Reporter: How do you know so much?
Xian’er: The more you know, the more troubles you have.
Reporter: Can I take you home?
Xian’er: Are you kidding me? You can’t do that!
The temple is developing a new model of Xian’er and it says that the new monk will have a diverse range of functions.
Watch this video of the wise monk Xian’er:
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