When the robot apocalypse comes, robots will be there to say a prayer over your frail human remains, thanks to Japan’s Softbank.
That’s the message from this week’s Tokyo Int’l Funeral & Cemetery Show, where Softbank’s Pepper robot demonstrated its ability to perform Buddhist funeral rites.
Draped in traditional Japanese funeral garb, Pepper not only presided over a faux death ceremony, it also chanted Buddhist sutras, taking over the usual role of a human monk during such ceremonies.
So far, Pepper isn’t actually performing any real funeral rites, but Japan’s Nissei Eco developed the funeral software for Pepper as an alternative when a Buddhist monk isn’t available, or when the family can’t afford the more expensive human practitioner (the service will cost about $450 versus the thousands of dollars usually spent for a human, according to CNBC).
Does it sound and look spooky as hell? Absolutely. But in Japan, where the elderly are beginning to outnumber children, cheap, automated funeral rites may soon become the norm.