NewsArtificial intelligence comes to the church with a curious mass in Germany

    Artificial intelligence comes to the church with a curious mass in Germany

    A mass created with artificial intelligence aroused great interest in a German congregation. During the service, the chatbot asked believers at St. Paul’s Church in the crowded Bavarian town of Fuerth to get up from the pews and praise the Lord.

    He chatbot ChatGPTimpersonated by an avatar of a bearded black man on a giant screen above the altar, began preaching to the more than 300 people who had turned up Friday morning for an experimental Lutheran church service generated almost entirely by artificial intelligence.

    “Dear friends, it is my honor to be here and preach to you as the first artificial intelligence at this year’s protest convention in Germany,” the avatar said with an expressionless face and a monotone voice.

    The 40-minute service – which included the sermon, prayers and music – was created by ChatGPT and Jonas Simmerlein, a theologian and philosopher at the University of Vienna.

    “I conceived of this service, but actually I’d rather go along with it, because I would say about 98% of it comes from the machine,” the 29-year-old academic told Associated Press.

    “Now is the time”

    The artificial intelligence mass was one of hundreds of events at the convention of protesters in the Bavarian cities of Nuremberg and neighboring Fuerth, and it aroused such immense interest that people formed a long queue outside the 19th-century neo-Gothic building for an hour. before it started.

    Row in front of the church in Nuremberg, Germany, where the mass was performed by artificial intelligence. Photo: AP

    The convention itself, the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag, takes place every other year during the summer in a different location in Germany and draws thousands of believers to pray, sing and talk about their faith.

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    They also talk about world news and look for solutions to key problems, which this year included global warming, the war in Ukraine and artificial intelligence.

    This year’s meeting takes place from Wednesday to Sunday under the motto “Now is the time”. That catchphrase was one of the phrases Simmerlein gave ChatGPT when he asked the chatbot to develop the sermon.

    “I said to the artificial intelligence, ‘We’re at the church meeting, you’re a preacher… what would a church service be like?’” Simmerlein said. He also asked that psalms be included, as well as prayers and a blessing at the end.

    “You end up with a pretty solid church service,” Simmerlein noted, sounding almost surprised by the success of his experiment.

    In fact, believers in the church listened intently as artificial intelligence preached about leaving the past behind, focusing on the challenges of the present, overcoming the fear of death, and never losing trust in Jesus Christ.

    All the service was “led” by four different avatars on the screenTwo young women and two young men.

    Sometimes the AI-generated avatar inadvertently drew laughter, such as when he used platitudes and told churchgoers with a deadpan expression that to “keep our faith, we must pray and go to church regularly.”

    Some people enthusiastically videoted the event on their cell phones, while others looked more critically and refused to speak out loud during the Lord’s Prayer.

    The religious service by artificial intelligence, this Friday in Nuremberg, Germany.  Photo: AP

    The religious service by artificial intelligence, this Friday in Nuremberg, Germany. Photo: AP

    Heiderose Schmidt, a 54-year-old woman who works in information technology, said she was excited and curious when the service began but found it increasingly unpleasant as it went on.

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    “There was no heart or soul,” he said. “The avatars showed no emotions at all, had no body language, and spoke so fast and monotonously that it was very difficult for me to concentrate on what they were saying.”

    “But maybe it’s different for the younger generation that grew up with all this,” Schmidt added.

    Marc Jansen, a 31-year-old Lutheran pastor from Troisdorf, near the western German city of Cologne, took a group of teenagers from his congregation to St. Paul. I was more impressed for the experiment.

    “In fact, I had imagined worse. But I was positively surprised at how well it worked. Also, the language of the artificial intelligence worked well, although it was still a bit patchy at times,” Jansen said.

    What the young pastor missed, however, was any kind of emotion or spirituality, which he says is essential when writing his own sermons.

    artificial intelligence and religion

    The service was also attended by Anna Puzio, 28, a researcher in technology ethics at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. She said that she sees many opportunities in the use of AI in religion, such as making religious services more accessible and inclusive for believers who, for various reasons, are unable to experience their faith in person with others in places of worship. worship.

    However, he pointed out that there are also dangers when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence in religion.

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    “The challenge I see is that artificial intelligence is very similar to human intelligence and it is easy to be fooled by it,” he added.

    “In addition, we do not have a single Christian opinion, and that is what artificial intelligence has to represent as well,” he said. “We must be careful that it is not misused to spread a single opinion.”

    Simmerlein said that it is not their intention to replace religious leaders with artificial intelligence. Rather, he sees the use of artificial intelligence as a way to help them with their daily work in their congregations.

    Some pastors look to literature for inspiration, he says, so why not ask artificial intelligence for ideas on an upcoming sermon? Others would like more time for individual spiritual guidance of their parishioners, so why not speed up the sermon writing process with the help of a chatbot to free up time for other important tasks?

    “Artificial intelligence will increasingly take over our lives, in all its facets,” Simmerlein said. “And so it’s helpful to learn how to deal with it.”

    However, the experimental church service also showed the boundaries to implement artificial intelligence in church or religion. There was no real interaction between the believers and the chatbot, which was unable to respond to laughter or any other reaction from parishioners as a human pastor would have.

    “The pastor is in the congregation, lives with them, buries people, knows them from the beginning,” Simmerlein said. “Artificial intelligence can’t do that. He doesn’t know the congregation.”

    Source: AP


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    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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