The Kyoto University’s Institute for the Future of Human Society (IFOHS) is developing “Teraverse”, which aims to bring Buddhism to the forthcoming metaverse.
The Teraverse project will bring Buddhist art, philosophy, ritual, and practice to a globally available online community in the metaverse.
According to a press release, the Teraverse features temples of all shapes and sizes. Visitors can shoot lasers out of their faces too in this digital landscape.
The prefix “tera” can refer to the Japanese term for temple, or the Greek-derived term for trillion used in the metric system. The Teraverse may refer to the online platform for temples to reach new people or the vastness of the upcoming Buddhist digital landscape.
Seiji Kumagai, the associate professor of Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Studies at Kyoto University said that the Buddhist metaverse was aimed at offering “new ways to blend traditional knowledge and science.”
He further said, “As an option in today’s diversified society, we hope they can bring understanding and enjoyment to people, creating new vitality and hope, and building a more vibrant society.”
Before Teraverse, came the “Buddhabot”, which uses AI to interact with users. The Buddhabot is trained on the Buddhist scriptures Sutta Nipata and Dhammapada using Google’s BERT machine learning algorithm.
The bot appears on the user’s mobile device screen overlaid on their actual surroundings as captured by the device’s back-facing camera.
Kumagai said, “Buddhist circles face a harsh reality with the income of temples waning, while people’s anxiety and suffering are growing amid the coronavirus pandemic and other crises. We’d like to respond to both challenges by combining traditional wisdom with AI and the metaverse.”
Both Buddhabot and Teraverse are not available to the public yet. The developers are being cautious and ensuring that the software and its use of the Buddha image are executed respectfully as they plan further releases of the system.
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