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Thread: Buddhist robot

  1. #1
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    Buddhist robot

    Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:42am EDT
    Robot monk blends science and Buddhism at Chinese temple
    BEIJING | BY JOSEPH CAMPBELL

    A Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing has decided to ditch traditional ways and use technology to attract followers.

    Longquan temple says it has developed a robot monk that can chant Buddhist mantras, move via voice command, and hold a simple conversation.

    Named Xian'er, the 60-cm (2-foot) tall robot resembles a cartoon-like novice monk in yellow robes with a shaven head, holding a touch screen on his chest.

    Xian'er can hold a conversation by answering about 20 simple questions about Buddhism and daily life, listed on his screen, and perform seven types of motions on his wheels.

    Master Xianfan, Xian’er’s creator, said the robot monk was the perfect vessel for spreading the wisdom of Buddhism in China, through the fusion of science and Buddhism.

    "Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible," said Xianfan.

    Under the careful watch of China's officially atheist Communist Party, religion has slowly crept back into daily life since reforms got going several decades ago.

    Xianfan said Buddhism filled a gap for people in a fast-changing, smart-phone dominated society.

    "Buddhism is something that attaches much importance to inner heart, and pays attention to the individual's spiritual world," he said.

    "It is a kind of elevated culture. Speaking from this perspective, I think it can satisfy the needs of many people."

    The little robot monk was developed as a joint project between a technology company and artificial intelligence experts from some of China's top universities.

    It was unveiled to the public in October.

    But Xian'er is not necessarily the social butterfly many believe him to be.

    He has toured several robotics and innovation fairs across China but rarely makes public appearances at Longquan temple.

    Xian'er spends most of his days "meditating" on a shelf in an office, even though curiosity about him has exploded on social media.

    Xian'er was inspired by Xianfan's 2013 cartoon creation of the same name. The temple has produced cartoon animations, published comic anthologies, and even merchandise featuring the cartoon monk.

    Michelle Yu, a tourist and practicing Buddhist, said she first spotted Xian'er on social media.

    "He looks really cute and adorable. He'll spread Buddhism to more people, since they will think he's very interesting, and will make them really want to understand Buddhism," she said.

    The temple is developing a new model of Xian'er, which it says will have a more diverse range of functions.

    (Reporting by Joseph Campbell; Editing by Robert Birsel)


    Robot Xian'er is placed next to Master Xianfan while Xianfan has an interview with Reuters at Longquan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing, April 20, 2016.
    REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON
    This would work better for me if the robot looked a little less like the ******* son of Charlie Brown and Tin Tin.
    Gene Ching
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  2. #2
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    More on Xian'er from the Washington Post no less

    Here are some other robot threads, just to fill the text post minimum:
    Tai-Chi-Robot
    martial-arts-robot

    Meet the robot monk spreading the teachings of Buddhism around China
    By Travis M. Andrews April 27
    Meet a Buddhist temple's robot monk

    Buddism may be an ancient religion, but one temple is looking to the future to spread its teachings.

    Xian’er makes for a good Buddhist, chanting his mantras with almost endless energy and chatting with interested parties about the intricacies of the religion.

    Oh, he’s also a robot.

    Standing at two feet tall, Xian’er moves around by voice-command and can answer twenty different questions about Buddhism in his version of small talk — comparable to a mini version of Apple’s Siri. The topics he can discuss are listed on a screen he holds in front of his considerable heft. He’s “clad” in yellow rooms and sports a bald dome with eyebrows raised in perpetual interest (or maybe it’s surprise). He calls the Longquan temple on the outskirts of Beijing home, Reuters reported.


    Master Xianfan looks at robot monk Xian’er as he demonstrates the robot’s conversation function during a photo opportunity in Longquan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing on April 20, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

    Master Xianfan, his creator, based him on a cartoon he began drawing in 2013, which wound up in animations, published comics and merchandise featuring Xian’er’s likeness. Both the cartoon and the robot have the same goal: to spread the teachings of Buddhism.

    Xian’er has chosen a good time to do so, as Buddhism is currently on the rise. According to research by Pew, the number of Buddhists worldwide is expected to increase to 511 million people by 2030. It was 488 million in 2010.

    Xianfan attributes the current rise in Buddhism to harried people seeking peace in a fast-paced digital world.

    “Buddhism is something that attaches much importance to inner heart, and pays attention to the individual’s spiritual world,” he told Reuters. “It is a kind of elevated culture. Speaking from this perspective, I think it can satisfy the needs of many people.”

    That’s where Xian’er comes in: He might be able to spread that inner peace to a digital world. And while this same world has created many of the distractions, Xianfan said it makes sense to mix science and Buddhism.

    “Science and Buddhism are not opposing nor contradicting, and can be combined and mutually compatible,” he said.

    Spreading the religion might be important, too. After peaking in 2030, Buddhism is expected to drop to 486 million by 2050 — falling from 7 percent of the world’s population in 2010 to 5 percent in 2050 — due to the average age and low fertility rates of many practicing Buddhists.


    The report states, “The proportion of China’s population that is Buddhist is expected to remain around 18 percent between 2010 and 2050.”

    Another Pew study projected that Islam will likely grow faster than any other religion by 2050 if current trends continue. In fact, if the Buddhist population rises and falls as predicted, it will be the only major religion that isn’t poised for “at least some growth in absolute numbers.”

    If Xian’er doesn’t get to work, that is.


    Master Xianfan sits next to robot Xian’er as he poses for a photograph at Longquan Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Beijing on April 20, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

    The little guy has certainly charmed some people. Michelle Yu, a practicing Buddhist who recently visited Beijing, made a special visit to Xian-er, who she first saw on social media.

    “He looks really cute and adorable,” she told CBC. “He’ll spread Buddhism to more people, since they will think he’s very interesting, and will make them really want to understand Buddhism.”


    Visitors take a picture with Robot Xian’er which is placed in the main building of Longquan Buddhist temple for a photo opportunity by the temple’s staff, on the outskirts of Beijing on April 20, 2016. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

    Travis M. Andrews is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Previously he was an editor for Southern Living and a pop culture and tech contributor for Mashable. Shoot him an email at travis.andrews@washpost.com. Follow @travismandrews
    Gene Ching
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  3. #3
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    Slightly OT

    Couldn't resist ttt-ing this here thread.

    ZEN ROBOT ANALYZES ODDLY SHAPED ROCKS, FIGURES OUT HOW BEST TO STACK THEM
    By Luke Dormehl — Updated June 1, 2017 10:53 am



    WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU
    This robot's impressive balancing act could one day pave the way for robots that are able to create structures with local materials.
    Remember those mysterious piles of rocks left outside the kids’ tents in The Blair Witch Project? It seems that we might have been barking up the wrong tree with supernatural explanations because, as it turns out, it may have been robots after all!

    At least, that’s if the folks at ETH Zurich had anything to do with it. At this week’s ICRA 2017 event in Singapore, the Swiss researchers showed off a robot that is designed to autonomously stack pieces of limestone into balanced towers.

    While that is the kind of thing that a human child may be able to do, it is a tough ask for a robot due to the planning involved — not to mention the odd shape of the irregular rocks it is being asked to manipulate. To handle this, the researchers each took charge of a different operation the robot had to carry out: Either object detection, object manipulation, or a pose-searching algorithm that works out how best to stack the rocks based on what it knows about previous rock stacks.



    The researchers do, admittedly, cheat a little bit. Sure, each rock is different, but the robot has 3D scanned them in advance of its building task, thereby letting it carry out simulations before starting work on the actual physical stacking. That does not make its achievement any less impressive, though. While kids can, as mentioned, create stacks of a few rocks without too much trouble, the ability to heap six on top of one another is something that is a bit trickier than it looks.

    In all, the work represents an exciting step forward in what its creators hope will one day be the ability of robots to use local building materials to create structures — or, at the very least, carry out a spot of landscape gardening.

    You can check out the authors’ paper, titled “Autonomous Robotic Stone Stacking with Online next Best Object Target Pose Planning,” here.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #4
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    The return of Xian'er



    Longquan Temple is using artificial intelligence to organize and spread Buddhist scriptures
    Jul 9, 2018 Jiefei Liu
    With Chinese Characteristics

    The information and technology center at Longquan Temple is working on AI to improve their robot monk Xian’er and organize Chinese Buddhist Canon (大藏经), the total body of Buddhist canon in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, said Xinxian Master of the temple at TechCrunch Hangzhou

    The center optimized optical character recognition via machine learning, making the technology more suited for ancient characters. Now, the AI technology can even add punctuation to the ancient texts, notoriously difficult to parse much less understand.

    Xian’er, meaning virtuous but stupid in Chinese, is a robot monk. It’s about half a meter tall and holds a tablet in front of his belly. You can either talk to the robot or select questions on the screen. The robot monk also exists in a WeChat mini program. Unlike Siri which answers more down-to-earth questions like “how’s the weather”, Xian’er is designed to tackle metaphysical problems like the meaning of life.


    Xian’er answer to the meaning of life in the WeChat mini program Robot Monk Xian’er (机器僧贤二).

    “What’s the meaning of life,” one might ask.

    Xian’er quoted a famous Chinese writer Feng Zikai: “There are three stages of life, meaning material, spiritual and soul. Material life means food and clothing, spiritual means art and literature, and soul means religion. One can not always stay in the first stage. One needs to move upward.”

    The official WeChat account already has 1.3 million followers. The temple also produced an educational cartoon series featuring Xian’er practicing Buddhism. However, the temple does not plan to turn a profit from Xian’er and its related products. With the help of AI, Xian’er is expected to read and parse Buddhist scripture in the future.

    Chinese popular martial arts and chivalry novels always depict ancient Buddhism temples as retreats of geniuses. In the tech-driven twenty-first century, Longquan Temple is perceived by many Chinese as a shelter for computer science geniuses who are tired of the secular world. There myths about how, after visiting the temple, tech entrepreneurs developed revolutionary products, including WeChat.

    Longquan Temple isn’t the first one that has tried to facilitate Buddhism with technology. Last year, Japanese company Nissei Eco last developed a chanting feature for SoftBank’s android Pepper, making the robot available for funeral services.
    Xian'er kind of hurts my head to think about...
    Gene Ching
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  5. #5
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    Mindar

    Mindar sounds like a classic tokusatsu name.

    There's a vid which kinda creeps me out.

    Robot 'GOD': AI version of Buddhist deity to preach in Japanese temple
    A JAPANESE robot has been created to preach the teachings of Buddha in colloquial language at the Kodaiji Temple in the ancient city of Kyoto.
    By BRIAN MCGLEENON
    PUBLISHED: 02:00, Mon, Feb 25, 2019 | UPDATED: 12:26, Mon, Feb 25, 2019

    The humanoid robot is modeled after Kannon Bodhisattva, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The robot’s name is Mindar and it gave its first speech on the Heart Sutra, a key scripture in Buddhist teaching. The Japan Times reported that the teachings spoken by the robot offer a path to "overcome all fear, destroy all wrong perceptions and realise perfect nirvana.”

    As Mindar gave its speech on the Heart Sutra and humanity, English and Chinese subtitles were projected on the wall as music played in the background.

    The chief steward of the temple in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward Tensho Goto during a news conference said: “If an image of Buddha speaks, teachings of Buddhism will probably be easier to understand,”

    He added: “We want many people to come to see the robot to think about the essence of Buddhism.”

    Another official connected to the temple explained how the robot would “help people who usually have little connection with Buddhism to take an interest” in the religion.”


    Robot Mindar, which is about 195 centimeters tall and weighs 60 kilograms (Image: KyodoNews)


    Mindar was constructed by Tokyo-based A-Lab Co (Image: KyodoNews)

    Mindar, which is about 195 centimeters tall and weighs 60 kilograms, was constructed by Tokyo-based A-Lab Co.

    It is primarily made of aluminum, with silicone used for its face and hands.

    The robot will be revealed to the public between March 8 and May 6.

    Japanese researchers have been developing robots to revolutionise labour within Japan.


    The humanoid robot is modeled after Kannon Bodhisattva (Image: KyodoNews)

    Uses for the burgeoning technology including teaching children, comforting the sick and aged, and disposing of hazardous nuclear waste.

    For instance, a robot is to be deployed by Tepco for the first contact with the melted fuel from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster.

    Kentaro Yoshifuji, the chief executive officer of Ory Lab, announced the development of a waiter robot at a cafe in Tokyo.

    The Japanese government has already introduced robots at railway systems to monitor the areas for lost belongings or suspicious objects.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  6. #6
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    I think they kind of deserve this.
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  7. #7
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    bhuta vahana yanta

    Robots guarded Buddha’s relics in a legend of ancient India
    March 13, 2019 6.40am EDT


    Two small figures guard the table holding the Buddha’s relics. Are they spearmen, or robots? British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

    Author
    Adrienne Mayor
    Research Scholar, Classics and History and Philosophy of Science, Stanford University

    As early as Homer, more than 2,500 years ago, Greek mythology explored the idea of automatons and self-moving devices. By the third century B.C., engineers in Hellenistic Alexandria, in Egypt, were building real mechanical robots and machines. And such science fictions and historical technologies were not unique to Greco-Roman culture.

    In my recent book “Gods and Robots,” I explain that many ancient societies imagined and constructed automatons. Chinese chronicles tell of emperors fooled by realistic androids and describe artificial servants crafted in the second century by the female inventor Huang Yueying. Techno-marvels, such as flying war chariots and animated beings, also appear in Hindu epics. One of the most intriguing stories from India tells how robots once guarded Buddha’s relics. As fanciful as it might sound to modern ears, this tale has a strong basis in links between ancient Greece and ancient India.

    The story is set in the time of kings Ajatasatru and Asoka. Ajatasatru, who reigned from 492 to 460 B.C., was recognized for commissioning new military inventions, such as powerful catapults and a mechanized war chariot with whirling blades. When Buddha died, Ajatasatru was entrusted with defending his precious remains. The king hid them in an underground chamber near his capital, Pataliputta (now Patna) in northeastern India.


    A sculpture depicting the distribution of the Buddha’s relics. Los Angeles County Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons

    Traditionally, statues of giant warriors stood on guard near treasures. But in the legend, Ajatasatru’s guards were extraordinary: They were robots. In India, automatons or mechanical beings that could move on their own were called “bhuta vahana yanta,” or “spirit movement machines” in Pali and Sanskrit. According to the story, it was foretold that Ajatasatru’s robots would remain on duty until a future king would distribute Buddha’s relics throughout the realm.

    Ancient robots and automatons


    A statue of Visvakarman, the engineer of the universe. Suraj Belbase/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

    Hindu and Buddhist texts describe the automaton warriors whirling like the wind, slashing intruders with swords, recalling Ajatasatru’s war chariots with spinning blades. In some versions the robots are driven by a water wheel or made by Visvakarman, the Hindu engineer god. But the most striking version came by a tangled route to the “Lokapannatti” of Burma – Pali translations of older, lost Sanskrit texts, only known from Chinese translations, each drawing on earlier oral traditions.

    In this tale, many “yantakara,” robot makers, lived in the Western land of the “Yavanas,” Greek-speakers, in “Roma-visaya,” the Indian name for the Greco-Roman culture of the Mediterranean world. The Yavanas’ secret technology of robots was closely guarded. The robots of Roma-visaya carried out trade and farming and captured and executed criminals.

    Robot makers were forbidden to leave or reveal their secrets – if they did, robotic assassins pursued and killed them. Rumors of the fabulous robots reached India, inspiring a young artisan of Pataliputta, Ajatasatru’s capital, who wished to learn how to make automatons.

    In the legend, the young man of Pataliputta finds himself reincarnated in the heart of Roma-visaya. He marries the daughter of the master robot maker and learns his craft. One day he steals plans for making robots, and hatches a plot to get them back to India.

    Certain of being slain by killer robots before he could make the trip himself, he slits open his thigh, inserts the drawings under his skin and sews himself back up. Then he tells his son to make sure his body makes it back to Pataliputta, and starts the journey. He’s caught and killed, but his son recovers his body and brings it to Pataliputta.

    Once back in India, the son retrieves the plans from his father’s body, and follows their instructions to build the automated soldiers for King Ajatasatru to protect Buddha’s relics in the underground chamber. Well hidden and expertly guarded, the relics – and robots – fell into obscurity.


    The sprawling Maurya Empire in about 250 B.C. Avantiputra7/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

    Two centuries after Ajatasatru, Asoka ruled the powerful Mauryan Empire in Pataliputta, 273-232 B.C. Asoka constructed many stupas to enshrine Buddha’s relics across his vast kingdom. According to the legend, Asoka had heard the legend of the hidden relics and searched until he discovered the underground chamber guarded by the fierce android warriors. Violent battles raged between Asoka and the robots.

    In one version, the god Visvakarman helped Asoka to defeat them by shooting arrows into the bolts that held the spinning constructions together; in another tale, the old engineer’s son explained how to disable and control the robots. At any rate, Asoka ended up commanding the army of automatons himself.

    Exchange between East and West

    Is this legend simply fantasy? Or could the tale have coalesced around early cultural exchanges between East and West? The story clearly connects the mechanical beings defending Buddha’s relics to automatons of Roma-visaya, the Greek-influenced West. How ancient is the tale? Most scholars assume it arose in medieval Islamic and European times.

    But I think the story could be much older. The historical setting points to technological exchange between Mauryan and Hellenistic cultures. Contact between India and Greece began in the fifth century B.C., a time when Ajatasatru’s engineers created novel war machines. Greco-Buddhist cultural exchange intensified after Alexander the Great’s campaigns in northern India.


    Inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic on a monument originally erected by King Asoka at Kandahar, in what is today Afghanistan. World Imaging/Wikimedia Commons

    In 300 B.C., two Greek ambassadors, Megasthenes and Deimachus, resided in Pataliputta, which boasted Greek-influenced art and architecture and was the home of the legendary artisan who obtained plans for robots in Roma-visaya. Grand pillars erected by Asoka are inscribed in ancient Greek and name Hellenistic kings, demonstrating Asoka’s relationship with the West. Historians know that Asoka corresponded with Hellenistic rulers, including Ptolemy II Philadelphus in Alexandria, whose spectacular procession in 279 B.C. famously displayed complex animated statues and automated devices.

    Historians report that Asoka sent envoys to Alexandria, and Ptolemy II sent ambassadors to Asoka in Pataliputta. It was customary for diplomats to present splendid gifts to show off cultural achievements. Did they bring plans or miniature models of automatons and other mechanical devices?

    I cannot hope to pinpoint the original date of the legend, but it is plausible that the idea of robots guarding Buddha’s relics melds both real and imagined engineering feats from the time of Ajatasatru and Asoka. This striking legend is proof that the concepts of building automatons were widespread in antiquity and reveals the universal and timeless link between imagination and science.


    Adrienne Mayor is the author of:
    Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology
    Princeton University Press provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
    All I can think of is the 18 Bronze Men of Shaolin now.
    Gene Ching
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  8. #8
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    No soul...

    God and robots: Will AI transform religion?

    Artificial intelligence is changing how we interact with everything, from food to healthcare, travel and also religion.
    Experts say major global faiths are discussing their relationship with AI, and some are starting to incorporate this technology into their worship. Robot priests can recite prayers, deliver sermons, and even comfort those experiencing a spiritual crisis.
    BBC Global Religion reporter Sofia Bettiza has taken a look at whether AI’s relationship with religion is just a gimmick, or whether it can truly transform how people experience faith.
    Reporter: Sofia Bettiza
    Video Journalist: Eloise Alanna
    Researcher: Jessica Furst
    Executive producers: Katie Alston, Claire Williams
    Extra cameras: Shiho Fukada, Robert Timothy
    Watch the embedded video.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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