There’s a growing concern that robots will eventually replace humans. Many industrial jobs have already been lost due to the advancement of robotic technology and it seems that robots might end up replacing humans for administering funeral rites as well. A Japanese company has programed SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robot to perform Buddhist funeral rites.
The programed robot chants sutras in its computerized voice as it taps a drum in a display that demonstrated its abilities to administer Buddhist funeral rites. The robot was being demonstrated at the Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo. Yes, that’s an expo for the funeral industry.
Nissei Eco, a company that makes plastic molding, wrote the program that enables SoftBank’s Pepper robot to perform this function. Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive advisor, pointed out that many Buddhist priests now receive less financial support from their communities as Japan’s population ages and shrinks.
This has led to many priests having to find part-time work outside their temples. The robot will then step in to perform the duties when a priest isn’t available. It will also cost less. A funeral administered by the robot will cost around $450 while one administered by a human priest costs $2,200.
Despite its cost-cutting benefits, nobody has hired the funeral-ready robot as yet.