Buddhist metaverse “Teraverse” in development at Kyoto University, includes AI Buddha

The metaverse has taken the world by storm, or talk about it at least, since there hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of a real mainstream metaverse except for maybe Second Life, but that came out like 20 years ago.

However, it could probably be said that a metaverse isn’t built in a day, so all these purportedly life-changing platforms are likely still in development.

Take Teraverse for example. This virtual space is still in its very early stages of development by the Institute for the Future of Society at Kyoto University and Teraverse Inc. However, unlike other metaverses, Teraverse is centered solely on bringing Buddhism into the modern world.

This is a good time to point out that “tera” is the Japanese word for a Buddhist temple, and as such is intended to host branches of real temples in virtual space, thus throwing off the shackles of the physical world’s limitations such as space and time.

According to a press release image, temples of all shapes and sizes can be crafted in the Teraverse and visitors can fly all over and check them out…and apparently shoot lasers out of their faces too, which is pretty cool.

That’s a really nice feature and great especially for temples in remote locations suffering from population decline. But it’s also important to note that the “tera” in “Teraverse” is also a reference to the prefix “tera-” which refers to a factor of one trillion and is used in computing terms such as a “terabyte.”

This would suggest that the Teraverse also aims to be a beefy digital land of enlightenment. Hints of that can also be seen in the highlight of Tera Platform AR Ver 1.0: Buddhabot!

Buddhabot is an AR Buddha powered by an AI trained on the Buddhist scriptures Sutta Nipata and Dhammapada using Google’s BERT machine learning algorithm. Users can ask Buddhabot a question and it will respond with advice based on actual Buddhist teachings.

Professor Seiji Kumagai of Kyoto University said about the platform: “With the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian-Ukraine war, more and more people are feeling pressure in the real world. The Buddhist virtual space that we started ,Teraverse and Tera Platform AR Ver. 1.0, released as a prototype, are new ways to fuse traditional knowledge and science.

As an option in today’s diversified society, we hope to deliver healing and enjoyment to people, create new vitality and hope, and realize a more vibrant society.”

Unfortunately both Buddhabot and Teraverse are not open to the public yet. For the time being, they require more development and security, especially since they deal in religious iconography and open the door for whole new forms of desecration. It is coming though, and in the process teaching us the importance of patience.

I’m definitely looking forward to it, but not because I’m all that into Buddhism. I just think having an AI Buddha could come in really handy when that one artificial intelligence finally does calculate that the world would be better off without humankind and goes all Skynet on us.