A Robot Monk Captivates China, Mixing Spirituality With Artificial Intelligence

April 27, 2016 Sinosphere By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW BEIJING — Po, the wisdom-seeking hero of the “Kung Fu Panda” films, might recognize this temple in China where the world’s first robot monk dwells. For Po’s Jade Palace, there is Longquan (Dragon Spring) Temple, a place of Buddhist worship in the mountains northwest of Beijing, where gnarled gingko and cypress trees tower over red-walled buildings underneath rocky Phoenix Ridge. For his Hall of Warriors, there is the Comic Center deep inside the temple, at the end of winding stone paths and steps, past a flower-shaped audio device that crackles sutras. As for Po himself, there is Xian’er, the two-foot-tall, advice-dispensing robot whose full title is Worthy Stupid Robot Monk. (In the Beijing dialect, “er,” or “stupid,” is a term of affection.)…


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