Things are getting complicated for humans with the rise of artificial intelligence technology.

There is fear that technology may replace human beings and news like this one only makes such fears more realistic.

How would you feel seeing a robot performing rites at your dead relative’s funeral?

It could be quite shocking but that is the reality awaiting Japan with the introduction of robot-for-hire, programmed to perform Buddhist funeral rites.

A Japanese company introduced the robot and it is called "Pepper".

Its new role is a Buddhist priest for hire at funerals.

Chanting sutras in a computerized voice while tapping a drum, the robot was on display on Wednesday at a funeral industry fair - the Life Ending Industry Expo - in Tokyo.

Nissei Eco Co., an unlisted plastic molding maker, wrote the chanting software for "Pepper", which was introduced by SoftBank Group Corp. in 2014.

But why does Japan need a robot to act as priest?

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Well, as you may know, Japan's population is ageing and shrinking and many Buddhist priests receive less financial support from their communities, prompting some to find part-time work outside their temple duties.

According to Nissei's executive adviser, Michio Inamura, this has led to increasing non-availability of priests when needed to officiate at funeral services.

The funeral robot, is therefore introduced, to step in when a priest is not available.

It also costs less at 50,000 yen (about $450) per funeral compared to more than 240,000 yen ($2,200) for a human priest.

But Buddhist priest, Tetsugi Matsuo has his reservations.

He said he came to the expo to see if ‘Pepper’ could "impart the 'heart' aspect to a machine because I believe that the 'heart' is the foundation of religion."

The robot has, however, not yet been hired for a funeral.

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