Artificial Intelligence is often utilized to increase the productivity. A typical example is a pick&place robot arm who helps a company to reduce the costs. The idea is, that the robotarm works faster than a human worker and doesn't need relaxation.

On the other hand, technology itself is neutral and can be utilized for many things. Nobody is forced to use Artificial Intelligence to move a robot more quickly. In theory, it's possible to use robotics for the opposite idea which is equal to religious needs. Religion is a domain in human society, which has to do with relaxation and do nothing but breathe in the woods. Are examples available in which robots were programmed to do tasks in a church and for other things which lowers the productivity of humans?

  • $\begingroup$ For a humorous roundabout approach to this question, consider reading Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. It has an Electric Monk that will believe something for you so you don't have to. $\endgroup$ – jgreener Oct 9 '19 at 9:47

Pepper the robot has been used to perform Buddhist funeral rights in Japan for years.

See: Robopriest: Catholic church could ordain sophisticated AI ROBOTS as priests, Franciscan Sister proposes, with the church moving towards a 'post-human priesthood' (Daily Mail)

The article article also discusses a sister and theologian from Catholic Church who suggests there is a place for AI in ceremonial duties in the future.

Machines with Artificial Intelligence are human products that can serve whatever need we plan them to perform. The aim may equally be making things easier in a lazy way, if it is convenient — there may be no limit in machinery or AI itself towards that ability.

People mind wants money of their creatures and it is easier to get money from productive and productivity increasing machines, the opposite just isn't such easy to market.

That said, religions are a big thing and motivates many people, so a need may occur in the sense of that market segment, where inventors and entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities.


[Warning: This answer contains religious content; and it is very likely it will offend some folks.]

The use of technology within religion is deeply controversial. Reformists and liberals are more open to it.

Religion is a private and personal matter. I've decided to give examples rather than explain the theory behind this because of the sensitivity of this topic.

I have tried to be diplomatic.

This is a semi-automated Quaker meeting.

This Lutheran practice is probably the most palatable to the layperson.

The exact relationship between transhumanism/A.I. and religion is complex and very nuanced.


Human rights is deeply important to me.

I have noticed this strange phenomenon of ethnic minorities preserving their faiths/philosophies/rituals/cultures/etc. through VR and and virtual environments.

This is a 6,000 to 4,000 (you can argue that it's even older than 6K years old), semi-mythical culture that is lacking in trained spiritual elders interested in its complex rituals. So, this is one way for A.I. to meet religious needs.



I wouldn't be surprised if there were a roomba roaming a church somewhere.

Of course, the practice of replacing humans with mechanical or electrical devices has been part of churches for longer than that. A church organ replaces much of the role of a choir (especially the harmony). A church organ may be better tuned than a choir too. It could act in better unison, and faster, make sounds outside the vocal ranges of most people, and make better music than is usually possible a cappella. The biggest limitation it had was its inability to make word sounds.

  • $\begingroup$ Real churches aren't using a roomba robot, but a normal vacuum cleaner. Sometimes, the roof is sanitized with a high pressure cleaner. $\endgroup$ – Manuel Rodriguez Oct 7 '19 at 11:37
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You're saying that there exist no church that uses a Roomba robot? Or are you saying that no "real" church would use a Roomba robot? $\endgroup$ – rytan451 Oct 8 '19 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ you definitely get a vote for roomba! (great lateral thinking;) $\endgroup$ – DukeZhou Nov 7 '19 at 2:34

Automation has been involved in Religion since at least the 4th century in Buddhist Prayer Wheels.

Recently there has manifested a Buddhist robot that chants sutras. The makers certainly intend to eventually integrate machine learning, and, with the acceleration in the capabilities of chatbots, I suspect there will be robots capable of giving humans spiritual and emotional comfort presently.

I find this robot not inconsistent with Buddhism, Zen in particular, as it can be said to have "no mind" (mushin), if not in the way it is typically understood.


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