Facing tough questions in life? Need tips on how to deal with a grumpy wife, nagging mum? China’s ‘robot monk’ has enlightening answers for you

Beijing temple’s AI-enabled robo-monk can not only recite Buddhist scriptures but also have simple conversations with people

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 1:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 3:58pm

When will China’s stock markets go up? How should I deal with my grumpy wife? How do I stop my mum from nagging?

Xian’er the robo-monk may just have all the answers to some of life’s most pressing issues – even if his responses come out sounding slightly zen.

Standing almost 60cm tall and dressed in a yellow robe, the little robot styled after a monk can not only recite Buddhist scriptures but also engage in basic Q&A-based conversations, according to The Beijing News.

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“Why are you named Xian’er?”

“My master gave me the name,” is the robot’s matter-of-factly in response to a reporter’s question.

“Will today’s share prices rise in the stock market?”

“How would I be able to answer this question?” says Xian’er.

“What should I do in a traffic jam?”

“It’s a great opportunity to recite some Buddhist scriptures” is the robo-monk’s answer.

The AI-enabled robot, developed last year for Longquan Temple in Beijing, has quickly become one of China’s busiest and most popular monks, according to the newspaper.

Xian’er has already amassed a huge fan base on weibo, thanks to its advanced conversational ability.

Since it was introduced to the public in October 2015, visitors have flocked to the Beijing temple just to catch a glimpse of the robo-monk.

And it’s not easy to get an opportunity to meet and personally speak to Xian’er as he has been travelling very frequently, gracing Buddhist exhibitions across the country, according to the report.

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Xian’er is able to engage in simple conversations, accept basic instructions as well as move as it interacts with people, the report said. It can also recite Buddhist scriptures or play Buddhist music.

A screen that the robot holds up prompts its user on the types of questions Xian’er is equipped to deal with.

The robo-monk was developed by a team of experts for Longquan Temple to help promote Buddhism among China’s growing number of tech-savvy youth.

The temple has so far used comics, animated films, music videos and a wide range of other technological means to try to reach out to young people.

Excerpts from a reporter’s conversation with Xian’er:

Reporter: Why are you named Xian’er?

Xian’er: My master gave me the name.

Reporter: Who is your master?

Xian’er: My master is my master.

Reporter: What will you eat today?

Xian’er: Robots don’t consume food – that’s out of the question.

Reporter: Will today’s share prices rise in the stock market?

Xian’er: How would I be able to answer this question?

Reporter: What should I do in a traffic jam?

Xian’er: It’s a great opportunity to recite some Buddhist scriptures

Reporter: How should I deal with my grumpy wife?

Xian’er: You can only carry on with her; I can’t advise you to divorce her.

Reporter: How should I deal with my constantly nagging mum?

Xian’er: Old people are like this... Just give in to her.

Reporter: I can’t carry on with life, what should I do?.

Xian’er: Don’t think that you’re the only one in the world who’s having it so bad.

Reporter: How do you know so much?

Xian’er: The more you know, the more troubles you have.

Reporter: Can I take you home?

Xian’er: Are you kidding me? You can’t do that!