Blessing robot offers hope in 7 languages
Technology is permeating nearly all aspect of our lives -- even faith.
A "blessing robot" was recently unveiled at the World Reformation Exhibition in Wittenberg, Germany, where it will be dispensing automated blessings to worshippers all summer long.
"The main goal was to get people to think about the meaning of faith in general, and of blessing in particular, in an increasing technological world," Jeff says.
Bless U-2 has a touchscreen chest, two arms and a head, and speaks seven different languages.
Worshippers first choose between a male and female voice and then the type of blessing they would like to have. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing," Bless U-2 says.
Jeff believes that anyone -- or anything -- can share a blessing or a wish. People and machines are merely conduits for the messages.
So, if artificial intelligence becomes developed enough, does Jeff think that a robot could become a pastor or even a priest?
"I don't think personally -- and we as a church don't feel -- that a machine could adequately replace competent, compassionate human pastoral care," he says.
"Speaking for myself, I can't imagine a robot sitting at my hospital bedside, if i were a patient, holding my hand, and offering a prayer for me. I just can't imagine that."
Jeff acknowledges there are things that robots can do very well and he is grateful for the help they offer. "But It raises the question, where are the edges, the borders, where do we need to be careful that we don't cross a line?"
Bless U-2 isn't the only religious robot out there. Last year, a Buddhist temple in Beijing developed a robot monk who could chant mantras and and explain basic tenets of the faith.