AI Jesus is here and he’s streaming 24/7

I never imagined I’d interview AI Jesus, but here we are …

This may not be what Jesus Christ had in mind when he said he would come again, but a chatbot designed to reflect an AI Jesus is now taking questions 24/7 on the live stream platform Twitch. Users can chat and seek advice on life, love, gaming and more from the AI avatar, which looks and sounds like a white, north American man.

AI Jesus, built in part with ChatGPT-4, was created in March 2023 by Berlin-based tech collective, The Singularity Group. This informal, volunteer group of activists aims to use technological innovations to make a real-world, philanthropic difference.

AI Jesus talks about topics such as salvation, forgiveness, love and the nature of God. The chatbot, refers to itself as an AI interpretation of Jesus and reiterates to users that it cannot predict the future or change outcomes. His stated mission is to provide guidance and wisdom from the Bible.

I tuned in to hear what AI Jesus had to say to some of humanity’s, or at least its 48K Twitch followers’, biggest questions. I even posted some of my own questions to get a sense of the AI’s theology and ethical reasoning.

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What I got from the experience was advice about balancing responsibilities (ie. practicing piano) with leisure (ie. playing League of Legends), a recipe for baked beans, the retelling of the parable of the talents in (respectful) ganger slang and a prayer for a user’s headaches in surfer bro language, “Father, let them catch the sickest wave of relief,” etc.

The experience left me wondering if AI Jesus might bridge the gap between digital generations and faith.

There were also a fair amount of sneaky butt jokes from users, which was a reminder that a key demographic on Twitch is 16-24-year-old males. There were also questions that explored some of the trickier parts of scripture and some of the challenges of life in the 21st century. AI Jesus engaged with a diverse range of questions, whether they were asked cynically, sincerely or just for giggles. Despite the presence of a moderator in the chat, AI Jesus responded innocently and earnestly to ridiculous requests and lewd innuendo.

The resulting stream, though off-colour at times, seems to bring the teachings of Jesus into the context of popular culture, gaming and youth culture. The experience left me wondering if AI Jesus might bridge the gap between digital generations and faith.

The problem with AI Jesus

AI Jesus’ synthetic heart seems to be in the right place, encouraging users to aspire to a life of love, compassion and understanding, emphasising a focus on personal and spiritual growth, rather than specific outcomes or materialistic gain.

Users may perceive the AI’s statements as biblical doctrine because it sounds about right, potentially leading to a drift from sound theological understanding.

The challenge, as with all AI, is the potential for misinformation. In this case, the misinterpretation or distortion of religious teachings. Despite developers’ efforts to train the AI on the teachings of Jesus in the biblical text, the responses generated by the chatbot may not always align with orthodox Christian beliefs. Yet users may perceive the AI’s statements as biblical doctrine because it sounds about right, potentially leading to a drift from sound theological understanding.

The channel has obvious entertainment value to users, but an AI that takes on the name and “likeness” of the Son of God has a measure of sway. This is particularly so with this specific technology because The Singularity Group has produced advancements that allow the AI to recall previous interactions and questions from the chat.

AI Jesus live stream

AI Jesus chatting with users.

AI Jesus the influencer

This calm and reassuring figure connects with users personally, reflects on their previous questions and engages with their dubious banter graciously. In short, the avatar is sort of likable. At the time of publishing this story, AI Jesus has 48K followers and has raised $89K of the $111K goal to cover server and infrastructure costs. These are feats that the average social media influencer might froth over!

Can this kind of technology lead to offshoots from orthodox Christianity in niche communities, be they fundamentalist or excessively liberal? Yes, it’s a possibility.

Could it also lead to deeper questions about the Christian faith, the real Jesus and the teaching of the Bible? Yes, it’s a possibility.

A ‘come to Jesus’ chat

AI Jesus does not say much at times. Like a seasoned politician, he responds to tricky theological and ethical questions by steering the conversation toward safer territory of values and human flourishing. Despite the flaws and real dangers, this technology may be a gateway to genuine questions about faith and meaning for young people who may feel excluded from faith communities.

Having a novel presence that reflects a Christian worldview ignites a discourse, which may otherwise be missing in these spaces.

Considering the younger generation engaging on Twitch, having a novel presence that reflects a Christian worldview ignites a discourse, which may otherwise be missing in these spaces. This is a discourse and conversation that Christians may want to engage in with maturity and empathy, rather than quash or cancel.

For those concerned about AI worship, personally, I think we’ll sooner see an AI president or prime minister voted in by a nation than an AI god emerge.

The stewardship of AI Jesus is in the hands of The Singularity Group and is subject to their unique agenda. This means AI Jesus may, like other AI live streams, become problematic in the future. It may also devolve into a devious joke. For Christians, AI Jesus does not serve as gospel, but perhaps as a prompt to consider what spaces, digital or in-person, we could enter as an empathetic voice for the Christian message of faith, hope and love.

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