Look long enough in a given app store and you’ll likely find applications designed to do virtually everything, from measuring wi-fi signals to identifying constellations to giving detailed transit directions. Evidently, you can also add “chat with an AI programmed to think it’s Jesus Christ” to that list. A recent Washington Post article detailed the development of an app called Text With Jesus, which lets you — surprise, surprise — chat with Jesus.
Or, in this case, a ChatGPT prompt that’s been told to answer in the voice of Jesus. Or, for that matter, one of countless other figures from the Bible — including Judas, Job and Satan.
The article, written by Fiona André, falls firmly in the truth is stranger than fiction camp. One of the details in André’s story sounds especially like something a writer looking to satirize the tech world might consider putting into a story before pausing. The detail? As André writes, “Many people in the Bible, Mary Magdalene among them, are only accessible in the app’s premium version, which costs $2.99 a month.” If you told me that this was a plot point in a George Saunders short story, I’d believe you.
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This isn’t to say that there aren’t more complicated things being done to replicate different figures’ voices using AI and chat technology. Earlier this year, Polygon published a fascinating interview with Chris Onstad, creator of the comic Achewood, in which Onstad described his efforts to develop an AI that could answer questions in the voice of one of the characters from the comic.
As the Post‘s article about Text With Jesus notes, some reactions to the app seem to be relatively welcoming, while others have found it blasphemous. It also begs the question: just how long will it be before someone starts a religion based on something a chatbot told them?
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