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Artist draws up tattooing bot in name of religion

Can't decide if you most identify with Islam, Christianity, or Judaism? Let Auto Ink mark you with a randomly selected religious tat.

Jigsaw: Hello CNET readers, I want to play a game. Chris Eckert

Someday in the not-too-distant future, the best tattoo artist could be a robot.

Artist Chris Eckert and programmer Martin Fox have created Auto Ink, a large, three-axis device capable of doodling on human skin. The steampunk-style machine is shown drawing on an arm in a video below, and it looks like something straight out of the "Saw" horror movies.

Strangely enough, Auto Ink was originally inspired by religion. Eckert believes faith "spans borders," but dislikes the arrogance and sense of exclusion he believes often accompanies those who carry religious messages. Since he thinks religion is often assigned depending solely on geography, Auto Ink emulates the creation of a religious identity by randomly drawing a Muslim, Christian, or Jewish symbol on the willing subject.

"Once the main switch is triggered, the operator is assigned a religion and its corresponding symbol is tattooed onto the person's arm," Eckert notes. "The operator does not have control over the assigned symbol. It is assigned either randomly or through divine intervention, depending on your personal beliefs."

Auto Ink, in its current form, uses a felt tip pen to draw and is incapable of truly giving a permanent tattoo. YouTube user Hellbierd notes that a real tattoo artist uses specific techniques during the process, requiring that the "skin must be stretched and the depth of the needle controlled."

So far, Auto Ink has only scribbled on its creators. Would you let a robot draw on you?