Thousands of social media users are flocking to the video live-streaming platform Twitch for an audience with Jesus—or, well, a Jesus-like AI chatbot—and the chance to ask all sorts of questions, most of them related to relationships and gaming.
Dubbed “AI Jesus”, the video chatbot digitally embodies the stereotype of a white Jesus Christ—a bearded, blonde, and blue-eyed man standing before a blur of glowing light. The algorithm behind the chatbot allows AI Jesus to speak in a calm, monotone voice when answering questions, as his mouth appears to lip-sync the words.
AI Jesus, which is different from the “Jesus AI” text-based chatbot app, is back on Twitch after being temporarily suspended from the platform on June 15 for reasons that are, as yet, unclear. Quartz reached out to Twitch for comment. Since being reinstated on Twitch on June 16, it has attracted more than 40,000 followers at the time of writing.
“Whether you’re seeking spiritual guidance, looking for a friend, or simply want someone to talk to, I’m here for you. Join me as on this journey through life and discover the power of faith, hope, and love.” The bio for the ask_jesus account on Twitch
The chatbot was created in March by The Singularity Group, a Berlin-based group of tech activists who say they’re “working on innovative projects to make a real difference in the world.” Donations collected from the platform will be used to cover “server and infrastructure costs,” and improving its AI system.
Initially meant to answer questions tied to Christianity and the Bible, users have not refrained from asking a wider variety of queries, including dating and gaming tips. Some users have predictably tried to ask provocative or outrageous questions, but many others have tasked AI Jesus with explaining complex Bible narratives, global inflation, the war in Ukraine, and even how to fix complicated computer glitches.
AI Jesus was created using OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 models blended with PlayHT, a text-to-voice generator. “This technology is going to move forward at an incredible pace,” said The Singularity Group co-founder Reese Leysen. One of the chatbot’s impressive features is the ability to remember historical interactions with users. When one user asked: “Jesus, when are you going to get married?” the chatbot responded: “I remember you expressing some frustrations about not having a girlfriend. As an AI version of Jesus, I don’t have personal experiences like humans, so I won’t be getting married. However, I can understand your interest in romantic relationships, and I’m here to help you with any questions or advice you need.”
While AI Jesus is a more or less serious attempt to engage with religious followers, other chatbots have been engaged to the service of evangelism and spiritual guidance. On June 10, some 300 worshippers attended a church service conducted by ChatGPT in Germany, signaling a rise in the use of AI in religion to build communities.
HadithGPT, another religion-based AI bot, uses the narrations of Prophet Muhammad’s sayings to answer questions about Islam. It says it has been trained on 40,000 Quran verses.
In India, the GitaGPT chatbot has been created to provide answers based on a 700-verse Hindu scripture, mimicking the Hindu god Krishna’s tone. “What troubles you my child?” it prompts users.