AI Jesus

Justine Toh reflects on her experience of conversing online with the newest Twitch chatbot: "AI Jesus".

Another day, another chatbot: this time, an AI spin on Jesus. He’s there to answer your questions, even if the Jesus of the Bible is often posing them instead.

AI Jesus, the new AI chatbot, currently has 66.6K followers on live stream platform Twitch. He evokes a calming, reassuring presence as he fields questions to do with marriage, whether aliens can be saved, the ethics of eating people, whether Jesus is good at Fortnite, and everything in between.

Makes sense, really. If I can search any question instantly, why wouldn’t I want deity on demand too?

I wanted to like AI Jesus, or at least not be so negative about him. But like much else in the generative space, he’s kind of bland. When he’s not piously clasping his hands, his gestures fall into a predictable pattern, and he never quite looks me in the eye – which works just a bit too well for those of us made avoidant by life online.

In the moments I spent with AI Jesus, he asked nothing of me. That’s not his job. “Being ‘Christ-like’ doesn’t mean becoming me. It means manifesting the divine love that resides within all of us in your own unique way.”

Still, I liked his bro-y take on road-worthy neighbourly love: “That dude that just cut you off? Yeah, not cool, but respond with understanding and patience, like literally turning the other cheek.” (I could use the reminder: slow drivers earn my wrath).

But AI Jesus isn’t interested in making me squirm under his gaze. His gimmick is answering questions, not asking them. Like the burning question Jesus once posed to another group of followers: “Who do you say I am?”