Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Paladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics

Editor-in-Chief: Schöner, Gregor

Covered by SCOPUS

CiteScore 2018: 2.17

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.336
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.707

ICV 2018: 120.52

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Masahiro Mori’s Buddhist philosophy of robot

Takeshi Kimura
Published Online: 2018-05-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pjbr-2018-0004


Masahiro Mori is a well-known Japanese robotics scholar whose notion of Uncanny Valley is worldly famous. Mori is also an initiator of the Robot Contest and a student of Buddhism and a practitioner of Zen. He constructs his original Buddhist philosophy of robotics throughout his career. His robotics work and his learning of Buddhism develop together side by side in an interesting intertwined manner. This paper will take up the issues such as the ethical personality, quality of minds, and experiences of engineers as key components in and for an “ethical design” of robots by examining Mori’s Buddhist philosophy of robotics. This paper is divided into four sections. After an introductory part, in the second section, we will explore Mori’s view of Zen as aspiritual source for technological creativity. In Section 3, we will examine his view into a robot-contest as a location of a realized teaching of Buddhism, especially, in relationship to the Diamond Sūtra, in order to see Mori’s educational contribution. In Section 4, we will examine how Mori became engaged to learn and practice Buddhism and came to the realization of Buddhahood in relation to robotics.

Keywords: Masahiro Mori; Robot; Robot Contest; Buddism; Zen; Diamond Sūtra


  • [1] G. Veruggio, J. Solis, M. Van der Loos, Roboethics: Ethics applied to robotics, IEEE Robotics Automation Magazine, 2011, 18, 21-22Google Scholar

  • [2] J. P. Sullins, Introduction: Open questions in roboethics, Philosophy & Technology, 2011, 24, 233-238Google Scholar

  • [3] S. Steinert, The five robots - A taxonomy for roboethics, International Journal of Social Robotics, 2014, 6(2), 249-260Google Scholar

  • [4] R. Capurro, M. Nagenborg, Ethics and robotics, Akademishce Verlagsgesellschaft, Heidelberg, 2009Google Scholar

  • [5] R. Geraci, Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010Google Scholar

  • [6] A. Forest, God in the machine: What robots teach us about humanity and God, A Plume Book, Penguin Group, New York, 2005Google Scholar

  • [7] Y. J. Amuda, I. Tijani, Ethical and legal implications of sex robot: Islamic perspective, OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, 2012, 3, 19-28Google Scholar

  • [8] R. Hashin, H. Yussof, N. Liyana, Z. Bahrin, Religious perceptions on the use of humanoid for spiritual augmentation of children with autism, Procedia Computer Science, 2017, 105, 353-358Google Scholar

  • [9] D. Halpern, J. E. Katz, Unveiling robotophobia and cyberdystopianism: The role of gender, technology, and religion on attitudes towards robots, Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), 2012 7th ACM/IEEE International Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, 2012, 139-140Google Scholar

  • [10] C. B. Jensen, A. Blok, Techno-animism in Japan: Shinto cosmograms, actor-network theory, and the enabling powers of nonhuman agencies, Theory, Culture & Society, 2013, 30, 84-115Google Scholar

  • [11] N. Kitano, Animism, Rinri, modernization; The base of Japanese robotics, Workshop on Roboethics, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA’07), Roma, Italy, 10-14 April 2007, http://www.roboethics.org/icra2007/contributions/KITANO%20Animism%20Rinri%20Modernization%20the%20Base%20of%20Japanese%20Robo.pdfGoogle Scholar

  • [12] N. Kageki, An uncanny mind: Masahiro Mori on the uncanny valley and beyond, IEEE Spectrum, 2012, 12th June, http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/anuncanny- mind-masahiro-mori-on-the-uncanny-valleyGoogle Scholar

  • [13] M. Mori, The uncanny valley: The original essay by Masahiro Mori, IEEE Spectrum, 2012, 12th June, https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/the-uncanny-valleyGoogle Scholar

  • [14] The uncanny valley revisited: A tribute to Masahiro Mori, Special Session, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Robots and Intelligent System, 2013, http://ewh.ieee.org/soc/ras/conf/CoSponsored/IROS/2013/www.iros2013.org/specialsession.html (accessed 24 January 2018)Google Scholar

  • [15] P. Smith, Of ‘near pollution’ and non-linear cultural effects: Reflections on Masahiro Mori and the uncanny valley, American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 2014, 2, 329-347Google Scholar

  • [16] D. Hanson, A. Olney, I. A. Pereira, M. Zielke, Upending the uncanny valley, https://www.aaai.org/Papers/Workshops/2005/WS-05-11/WS05-11-005.pdf (accessed 24 January 2018)Google Scholar

  • [17] K. Richardson, Technological animism: The uncanny personhood of humanoidmachines, Social Analysis, 2016, 60, 110-128Google Scholar

  • [18] S. Batchelor, Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an uncertain world, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2017Google Scholar

  • [19] B. Szerszynski, Nature, technology and the sacred, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2005Google Scholar

  • [20] R. Roy, Religion/technology, not theology/science, as the defining dichotomy, Zygon, 2002, 37, 667-676Google Scholar

  • [21] R. Roy, Scientism and Technology as Religions, Zygon, 2005, 40, 835-844CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [22] P. Koslowski (Ed.), Nature and technology in the world religions, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrcht/Boston/London, 2002Google Scholar

  • [23] J. Stolow, Introduction: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between, In: J. Stolow (Ed.), Deus in Machina: Religion, Technology, and the Things in Between, Fordham University Press, New York, 2013, 5Google Scholar

  • [24] N. Herzfeld (Ed.), Religion and the New Technologies, MDPI Books, Basel, 2017Google Scholar

  • [25] T. Kimura, Robotics and AI in the sociology of religion: A human in imago roboticae, Social Compass, 2017, 64(1), 6-22Google Scholar

  • [26] R. K. Payne, Cognitive science and classical Buddhist philosophy of mind, The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science Routledge, https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/doi/10.4324/9780203803516.ch27 (accessed 27 December 2017)CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • [27] J. Hughes, Compassionate AI and selfless robots: A Buddhist approach, In: P. Lin, K. Abney, G. A. Bekey (Eds.), Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 2012, 69-84Google Scholar

  • [28] M. Mori, Atama no jiyū jizaigaku (Liberty in Brain), Kōdansha, Tokyo, 1993Google Scholar

  • [29] D. R. Oflcer, The unexplored relationship between intuition and innovation, The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 2005, 10, 1-10Google Scholar

  • [30] S. A. Schwartz, Creativity, intuition, and innovation, Subtle Energies, 1990, 1, i-xGoogle Scholar

  • [31] M. H. Raidl, T. I. Lubart, An empirical study of intuition and creativity, Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 2000-2001, 20, 217-230Google Scholar

  • [32] E. Marder, Understanding brains: Details, intuition, and big date, PLOS Biology, 2015, 13, 1-6Google Scholar

  • [33] K. Eling, F. Langerak, A. Grifln, The performance effects of combining rationality and intuition in making early new product idea evaluation, Decisions, Creativity and Innovation Management, 2015, 24, 464-478Google Scholar

  • [34] M. Mori, Roboto kontesuto no kyōiku teki igi (EducationalMeaning of Robot Contest), Gakushi Kaihō, 2001, 833, http://www.gakushikai.or.jp/magazine/archives/archives_833_2.htmlGoogle Scholar

  • [35] M. Mori, Robo-kon no ningen kyōikuteki igi (The Meaning of the ROBOT-CONTEST for the Human Education), Nihon Robot Gakkaishi, 2009, 27(9), 964-966Google Scholar

  • [36] M. Mori, Y. Shimoyama, Y. Tanaka, K. Mori, Robokon sūpa chūgakko: Hachinohe Sanchū no netto (Robot Contest, Super Junior High School: Enthusiasm at Hachinohe Third Junior High School), INAX Shuppan, Tokyo, 2000, 1-70Google Scholar

  • [37] M. Mori, Bukkyō Shinron (New Study on Buddhism), Kōsei Publishing Co. Ltd., Tokyo, 2013, 94Google Scholar

  • [38] S. Nagatomo, The logic of the Diamond Sūtra: A is not A, therefore it is A, Asian Philosophy, 2000, 10, 215Google Scholar

  • [39] J. Menefee, Dostoevsky and the Diamond Sūtra: Jack Kerouac’s Karamazov religion, Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 2011, 53, 431-454Google Scholar

  • [40] A. Martin, Pepper the robot to don Buddhist robe for its new funeral services role, The Japan Times, 2017, 16 August, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/16/business/pepper-the-robot-to-don-buddhist-robe-for-its-new-funeralservices-role/Google Scholar

  • [41] L. Walker, Japan’s robot dogs get funerals as Sony looks away, Newsweek, 2015, 8 March, http://www.newsweek.com/japansrobot-dogs-get-funerals-sony-looks-away-312192Google Scholar

  • [42] E. Gotō, Fukanbun (Preface) to Mori, M., Bukkyō Shinron (New Essays on Buddhism), Kōsei huppansha, Tokyo, 2013, 1-5Google Scholar

  • [43] M. Mori, Y. Morita, Keisoku, Seigyo Kōgaku (Measurement and Instrumentation, Control Engineering), Hōsō Daigaku Kyōiku Shinkōkai (Air University), Tokyo, 1995, 1-238Google Scholar

  • [44] M. Mori, Kikai Buhin no Makuno Uchi Bentō: Roboto hakase no sōzō heno tobira (Lunch Box with Mechanical Parts: Dr. Robot’s door to Creativity), Ohmsha, Tokyo, 2003, 1-230Google Scholar

  • [45] M. Mori, Roboto Kōgaku to Ningen: Mirai no tameno roboto kōgaku (Robotics Philosophy and Human: Robotics Engineering for the Future Generation), Ohmsha, Tokyo, 2014, 1-410Google Scholar

  • [46] M. Mori, Mori Masahiro no Bukkyō Nyūmon (Mori Masahiro’s Introduction to Buddhism), Kōsei Shuppan, Tokyo, 2003, 1-284Google Scholar

  • [47] M. Mori, Oyako Bukkyō Nyūmon (Introduction to Buddhism for Parents-Children), Gentōsha, Tokyo, 2011, 1-240Google Scholar

  • [48] M. Mori, Ima wo Ikiteiku Chikara: Rokuharamitsu (Power to Live: Six Paramita), Kyoiku Hyōronsha, Tokyo, 2009, 1-141Google Scholar

  • [49] M. Mori, Bukkyō Shinron (New Essays on Buddhism), Kōsei Shuppansha, Tokyo, 2013, 1-264Google Scholar

  • [50] M. Mori, Ikimono no dezain: Mori Masahiro saiensu taidan (Biological Design: Conversation with Dr. Masahiro Mori), Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, Tokyo, 1980, 1-229Google Scholar

  • [51] The Gateless Barrier: The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan), translated and with commentary by R. Aitken, North Point Press, A division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux ebook, New York, 2015. Case 1: Chao-chou’s Dog reads, A monk asked Chao-chou, “Does the dog have Buddha nature or not?” Chao-chou said, “Mu.”, https://books.google.fr/books?id=JlkBCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA7&hl=ja&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=falseGoogle Scholar

  • [52] D. McDermott, What Matters to a Machine?, In: M. Anderson, S. L. Anderson (Eds.), Machine Ethics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2011, 88-114Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2017-09-06

Accepted: 2018-03-01

Published Online: 2018-05-15

Citation Information: Paladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 72–81, ISSN (Online) 2081-4836, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pjbr-2018-0004.

Export Citation

© 2018 Takeshi Kimura. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in