According to the website “Will Robots Take My Job?,” there is roughly a 0.81-percent chance of a member of the clergy being automated at some point in the near future. This makes it one of the least likely job types to suffer the effects of a robot takeover.
Try telling that to the creators of a new robotic priest that’s currently offering robo-blessings to a human congregation in Germany!
The robot in question is part of an exhibition at the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau in the town of Wittenberg. That’s the same German city where Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. The robot’s name is BlessU-2, and boasts two arms, a head with electronic eyes and mouth, and a touchscreen for users to interact with it.
Users first select the language they wish to receive their blessing in, choose a male or female voice for it to be spoken in, and then choose the type of blessing they wish to receive. When they have chosen their options, the robot makes a noise and raises its arms skyward, with an accompanying light show. It then says, “God bless and protect you” and recites a verse from the Bible — which the blessing recipient has the option of printing.
A spokesperson for the church told the Daily Mail newspaper that it is, “an experiment that is supposed to inspire discussion.” So far, reactions have reportedly been mixed — with half the responses being very positive, and the other half from people who, “cannot imagine a blessing from a machine.” However, it has had the effect of increasing the number of people visiting the church throughout the day.
Whether this turns out to be a sign of things to come remains to be seen. You’ve got to give the church props for its willingness to experiment and move with the times, though.
Religion? It turns out there’s an app for that!