An Italian inventor surprised thousands by presenting a robot that can read the Bible, propose prayers, quote biblical passages related to themes of the Catholic faith, and even narrate the life of the saint of the day.
The robot is named “Saint” and according to its inventor, it is made to accompany those who need it in prayer.
Gabriele Trovato, associate professor at the Innovative Global Program at the Shibaura Institute of Technology in Tokyo (Japan), is the inventor of this robot with the appearance of a saint in a niche.
In an interview for ACI Stampa, Trovato indicated that his idea was born when reflecting on the possibility of adapting robots to the needs of different cultures.
He had the support of the professor and researcher at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), Francisco Cuéllar. The first prototype was developed in 2017.
How the Robot Works
SanTO was designed to operate simply and be easily accessible to seniors.
“You just need to touch the robot’s hands to activate it, and the rest is handled by voice commands. There is a preset time to ask a question (unlike Alexa, which records continuously), after which SanTO responds. The lights in his halo regulate the times of the conversation,” Trovato explained.
The professor added that they carried out a test run of the robot in a nursing home in Siegen (Germany), where “SanTO” was able to pray alongside the residents.
“Older people could benefit from conversing daily with an artificial personality instead of being alone,” he added.
No, a Robot Cannot Replace a Priest
Trovato explained that the main goal of his robot is not to replace the role of the priest, but to be a “prayer companion and content provider.”
“The 2,000 years of texts that make up Catholic theology are usually inaccessible to an ordinary believer, but these contents can be useful, especially for lonely people or people in hospitals,” he highlighted.
“Since the Church is defined as a community of people, a machine cannot have a role, such as celebrating a Mass. However, the possibilities that this robot can offer as a new channel for faith are enormous, in the same way as radio or television.”