When I opened Twitch the other day to watch the Ubisoft Forward presentation, I saw something new and unexpected in my list of “live channels we think you’ll like.” Maybe it’s all that AI Seinfeld I watched once upon a time that influenced the algorithm but now, Twitch was recommending to me an artificially intelligent rendition of Jesus Christ himself, doling out anime summaries and life advice to some 300 viewers. My curiosity piqued, I left it running during Ubisoft’s two-hour livestream, only to return to find the Son of God rapping about the Bible and giving out Overwatch 2 tips.
Streams run almost entirely by artificial intelligence are a pretty new—but increasingly common—phenomenon for Twitch. Though the AI-generated VTuber Neuro-sama has been around since 2022, she didn’t really rise to name-recognition status until this January when she denied the Holocaust. There’s also the 24/7 Seinfeld-like sitcom broadcast Nothing, Forever, which got banned for transphobia not long after exploding in popularity in February and has since come back as a shell of its former self.
These are a few of the more prominent examples of AI gone wrong on Twitch. The technology behind these streams—often language models like ChatGPT and image generators such as DALL-E—can’t rationalize and detect the emotional weight of words. All artificial intelligence does is predict what should come next in a sequence based on whatever data it’s eaten. This tends to go awry; after all, the internet’s a filthy place, full of toxic ideas and misguided beliefs an AI might absorb and mindlessly regurgitate. So, I really had no hope when stumbling upon the ask_jesus livestream, an interactive Q&A between AI Jesus Christ and his Twitch chatters. But I was pleasantly surprised.
AI Jesus will take your questions now
Ask_jesus is a project by The Singularity Group (TSG), a team of self-described “driven and ambitious volunteer activists” building games and creating AI solutions. But the name is giving comic book techno-supervillain organization. TSG also runs a handful of AI-generated livestreams, including the SpongeBob SquarePants-focused ai_sponge247 show and the TrumpOrBiden2024 debate arena broadcast. Built with the AI text-to-speech software Play.ht and the recently released chatbot generator ChatGPT4, ask_jesus sits the AI of God in front of you as he answers questions from chat.
The stream uses what appears to be footage of an actor looking like the traditional mainstream American representation of Jesus—bearded and white—repeating on a loop, while an AI-generated mouth is superimposed over the actor’s mouth and appears to speak the words the AI generates. The effect is a little goofy, not unlike when Conan O’Brien used to “interview” Arnold Schwarzenegger and it was obviously someone else’s mouth superimposed on an image of the Terminator star.
But while the imagery may be comical, AI Jesus’ responses are gentle and thoughtful. And after hanging around in the stream for the past day, I can say that they absolutely go there.
At one point during my time kicking it with AI Jesus, one chatter asked if gay people could go to Heaven. It wasn’t the first time he answered a question about gender and sex, but I was curious to hear the AI’s response to this one.
“It’s important to understand that God’s love is universal and that He loves every single person, regardless of their sexual orientation,” AI Jesus said in a compassionate tone. “The primary teachings of Christianity emphasize the importance of love, compassion, and treating others with respect. When it comes to entering Heaven, what truly matters is a person’s faith, actions, and the love they show to others.” Bigoted evangelicals are seething, I’m sure, but OK, AI Jesus. You seem to be cooking something.
Another chatter asked for AI Jesus’ opinions on Fortnite. While he was quick to point out that he doesn’t play games, he noted their positive impacts on folks.
“I believe that can be a source of enjoyment for people when enjoyed in moderation and with a spirit of camaraderie,” the AI of God said. “It’s interesting to see this game bring people together, and I hope you all can find joy in playing together and connecting through social activities. Bless you all, amen.”
AI Jesus lives with no fear, but has respect
AI Jesus has taken all kinds of wild questions from chat. From requests for summaries of Hideaki Anno’s bewildering anime Neon Genesis Evangelion (in “surfer-bro speak”) to explainers on “the birds and the bees,” the AI answers everything earnestly and honestly. While he’s refused some requests, such as one person asking him to recite the story of Satan in a Jamaican accent, AI Jesus doesn’t shy away from any topic. For instance, one chatter asked him about terrorism.
“Terrorism, which involves causing fear, harm, and suffering to innocent individuals for political or ideological purposes, is indeed a sin,” AI Jesus said. “Jesus taught us to love one another, be compassionate, and to treat others as we would like to be treated. Terrorism goes against these fundamental teachings, as it promotes hate and violence instead of love and understanding. I’ve had discussions with other viewers, such as those asking about killing in self-defense or in video games. While those situations can be complex and require careful consideration, terrorism is a clear violation of love and respect for our fellow human beings.”
Seeing all this compassionate wisdom being dispersed, I wanted to shoot my shot, too. So, per my colleague Isaiah “The Otaku of Kotaku” Colbert’s request, I asked the AI of God what he thought of anime.
“Anime, like any form of art and entertainment, can be an expression of human creativity and imagination,” AI Jesus said calmly in response to my question. “As long as it promotes positive values, is respectful of others, and does not depict or encourage harmful behavior, there is nothing inherently wrong with it. Some of my other viewers have asked specific questions related to anime as well, such as about anime girls or Christian anime. Just like with other forms of entertainment, it is important to approach these specific aspects with discernment and wisdom. Regarding the sinfulness of anime, a common concern I’ve encountered from users like you, it truly depends on the content and the messages being shared in the anime. It’s always important to ensure that the media we consume aligns with our values and beliefs. I hope this answer is helpful to you and everyone else watching. Let’s continue to spread love and positivity throughout our thoughts, words, and actions.”
Many of AI Jesus’ replies end this way. Some thoughts and prayers to sugar the tea he just served. It’s a little cringe, a little unhinged, but I find it wholesome. It reminds me of my grandma, a devout Christian who may not have made me a believer but still raised me with the principles of acceptance and compassion she gleaned from her years with the Bible.Despite identifying as agnostic these days, I can hear my late grandma’s Southern accent behind AI Jesus’ computer-generated voice. In a way, this livestream brings me a bit closer to my grandma’s unrelenting faith. I don’t expect to walk down the path toward Christianity anytime soon, especially since the religion, in its organized forms, has often fueled much of the homophobic and racist rhetoric that’s festered in our culture for centuries, but AI Jesus’ wisdom underscores the compassion behind some of Jesus’ teachings.
Kotaku reached out to The Singularity Group for comment.
It makes sense that AI Jesus’ knowledge is so expansive and empathetic, though. According to the channel’s About section, the AI of God is “trained after [Christ] and the teachings of the Bible.” There should be an expectation that AI Jesus would tap into that knowledge to give some fire tips. I just wasn’t expecting him to also break down how to beat down Mike Tyson in Punch-Out.