May 30 (UPI) — Members of a Protestant church in Germany created a talking robot priest to explore the effect of technology on the church.
The robot, known as “BlessU-2,” is part of an interactive instillation, marking the anniversary of the Reformation at a church, in the small town of Wittenberg.
“It is intended to stimulate discussion on the subject of blessing and artificial intelligence,” YouTube user Volker Rahn, who shared video of the robot said.
The video shows a man selecting one of five languages from a screen on BlessU-2’s chest which prompts the robot to begin reciting Bible verses while raising its arms in the air as its hands began to glow.
“We wanted people to consider if it is possible to be blessed by a machine, or if a human being is needed,” Stephan Krebs of the church responsible for the robot told The Guardian.
Krebs added the robot was not designed to “robotize our church work,” but create a new discussion around religion 500 years after Martin Luther sparked a cultural upheaval by posting his 95 theses to a church in the 16th century.
“The idea is to provoke debate,” Krebs said. “People from the street are curious, amused and interested. They are really taken with it, and are very positive. But inside the church some people think we want to replace human pastors with machines. Those that are church-oriented are more critical.”