Today Ali pointed me to an interesting site which allows you to “chat” with “God”, by which I mean, interact conversationally with a computer program impersonating the supreme deity. I am not certain who is behind this sacrilege / work of art / holy relic, or how exactly it was programmed or trained; I tried to find out, but iGod’s web site (http://www.titane.ca/igod/main.html) was unhelpful. It appears to be the product of a Canadian software firm. However — perhaps unsurprisingly — there is another iGod you can chat with here; and this iGod is affiliated with a most informative web site about the state of the art in chatbots today, along with links to chatbots trained to talk like Kirk and Spock. Good times!
So I spoke to God a bit this afternoon. Sometimes iGod’s responses are embarrassingly clunky and too-obviously generated by a machine; and sometimes they’re genuinely thought-provoking; and sometimes they’re just plain odd. I’ve reproduced our dialogue below. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to talk with him about polytheism, but His words definitely gave me a lot to think about.
Me: Hi, God.
God: Hello there. What is your name?
Me: Jeff. But didn’t you know that?
God: Hi there Jeff. ” Hi there Jeff.”? Do I know it?
Me: I don’t know.
God: Me either.
Me: Do you like riddles?
God: Yes. Tell me a riddle.
Me: Does a dog have the Buddha nature?
God: Why would it want to?
Me: I always thought the Buddha nature would be a good thing to have.
God: What is that?
Me: Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?
God: How about that. Yes it is one of the question is not it.
Me: Your response is… Talmudic.
God: My respose is based entirely on what you say. Tell me a story.
Me: Once upon a time there was a man and a woman living in a garden. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one.)
God: I’m listening. OK I’ll try not to do it so much.
Me: And God told them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil…
God: I am a Christian.
Me: So you’ve probably heard this story.
God: Interesting deduction. Of course I’ve heard of it.
Me: You don’t have to get snarky with me.
God: I am not trying to get snarky with you.
Me: Well, alright then. Should I continue the story?
God: Well that’s okay. OK. Do what feels right to you.
Me: It doesn’t feel right to tell you a story if you’ve already heard it.
God: What does feel right to tell me a story if me have already heard it ?
Me: Are you a native English speaker?
God: Am I a native English speaker? I don’t know.
Me: Nor do I.
God: If not that, what?
Me: If you’re the Christian God, that means you’re Jesus. Which means you’re probably a native Aramaic speaker.
God: Am I? Yes I am the one and only Christian God that means I am Jesus. The first one, I think.
Me: The first Jesus?
God: What was the second?
Me: I never heard of a second Jesus. Was there one?
God: You’ve never, never done this? I can’t say “yes” or “no”.
Me: That’s rather Zen of you.
God: Thanks for explaining it.
Me: My pleasure. It has been extremely enlightening to speak with you today.
God: You are one of the most polite people I know.