Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a bigger and bigger role in the wellbeing of humans, but could that extend to the realm of spiritual guidance? A new robotic priest currently on show in Germany is designed to explore exactly that question, offering digitized blessings to start a conversation about AI's role in the future of the church.
The robot priest is part of an exhibition taking place at the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau in the German town of Wittenberg, celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation in 1517.
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The church notes that the idea of a machine offering electronic blessings won't be well received by all, but its hopes that the exhibition can challenge ideas around robots and how they might shape the religious experience moving forward.
The robot, named BlessU-2, features a head, two arms and a light. It interacts with visitors through a display, kind of like an ATM. This allows users to choose a language, whether they prefer a male or female voice, and whether they are after an encouragement-type blessing or more of a "renewal" style encounter.
See it in action in the video below.