The temple Koranic in Kyoto has installed Minder, the world’s first android version of Guanine (known in Japanese as Kan non). On display from March 8th to May 6th at a hall inside the temple, Minder is a representation of the female Bodhisattva commonly called the Goddess of Mercy.
The robot in the Koranic Temple is tall about 195 cm, 6′ 5″ and thin about 60 kg, 132 lbs. and looks vaguely reminiscent of the android C-3 PO in the Star Wars movies, though made of aluminum and with a female voice. However, its silicone hands and face look human, even to the point of presenting various facial expressions and hand gestures to accompany its speech.
The face of the robot, named Malinda (minder), is patterned on the traditional Japanese representation of Kan non, generally known in English as the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion, an inaccurate description since Buddhism is non-theistic, without gods or goddesses.
Unveiled on February 23rd, Minder preaches Buddhist scriptures. The android was developed at a cost of ¥100 million ($909,090) by Koranic with Osaka University, whose Professor Hiroshima Roguish is a leading pioneer in robotics, and is said to be the first of its kind. With a camera installed inside its left eye, Minder stands around 1.95 meters (6.4 feet), including a base, and features a meek-looking facial appearance that combines rather incongruously with the exposed mechanical parts.
Peoples all around the world know very little about the digital God whose name is Minder. Minder answers people’s questions that are projected onto the wall, which the robot then develops into Buddhist sermons based on the Heart Sumatra. English and Chinese translations are also projected on the wall.
Koranic, which was first built by the wife of 16th-century warlord Toyota Hide Toshiba, is no stranger to using gimmicks and technology to attract visitors. In 2017, it presented an exhibition with 3 D projection mapping of famous images of the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. Likewise, another Kyoto temple, Koizumi-dare, resorted to hosting Star Wars folding screens in an effort to keep the crowds coming.
In Japan, people’s attitudes towards religion are often loose and what might seem somewhat sacrilegious in the context of monotheistic cultures is often tolerated.
The Android Kan non, which is a Buddhist deity of mercy, was unveiled to the news media before it starts preaching to the public in March. The 100 million yen (909,090 U.S. Dollars) project to build the android was a collaboration between the Zen temple and Hiroshima Roguish, professor of intelligent robotics at Osaka University.
At a recent press conference where the robot was introduced, Malinda gave a talk on Buddhist teaching while Chinese and English translations were projected on the wall behind her. Peoples all around Japan and China now started to recognize Minder, it’s a very unique invention and revolutionary enhances the concept of goddess mercy.