The Mystery of Hot Jesus

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Generative AI could do many things to our world. But one thing it has certainly done already is facilitate endless (and endlessly strange) representations of Jesus Christ.

In a recent article for The Atlantic, my colleague Caroline Mimbs Nyce writes about these synthetic images of Christ, which have flooded social-media platforms in recent months. They typically depict Jesus as hypermasculine and physically attractive; sometimes he is locked in combat with the devil. “Hot Jesus appears to be catnip for users on Facebook, where he is routinely posted to generate engagement,” Caroline writes. “The mysterious people running these AI-junk Facebook pages must have some financial incentive to create this spam, though it’s unclear precisely how they’re profiting from them.”

Although the web has always offered oddities and offense in seemingly unlimited supply, image-generating tools such as DALL-E and Midjourney have arguably scaled up the weirdening. There is no escaping it, it seems—we can only pray for deliverance.


An image of Jesus, with a phone superimposed onto his torso, displaying a muscular male body
Illustration by Paul Spella / The Atlantic. Sources: Heritage Art / Getty; Olha Danylenko / Getty.

Hot AI Jesus Is Huge on Facebook

By Caroline Mimbs Nyce

Hot AI Jesus hath risen. The son of God, as rendered by modern artificial intelligence, is chiseled and has startlingly good hair. (He is not to be confused with Shrimp Jesus, another AI-generated variant.) These depictions of Christ are at times extremely popular on Facebook and Instagram. Jesus, hot or not, is a significant motif in this era of online AI junk; he is to AI Facebook spam as water lilies are to Monet, and dancers to Degas. Spend enough time scrolling the AI wastelands of social media, and you will likely encounter him, in all his glory. He raises a number of questions about social media, religion, and art, the most basic one being: Why on earth does AI present the son of God as such a smoke show?

Read the full article.


What to Read Next

  • AI has a hotness problem: Generative AI does tend to create unrealistically attractive people by default—Jesus or not. In a previous story, Caroline explored three possible explanations.

P.S.

Hot Jesus may highlight quirks in how various programs organize and process the tremendous amount of data they’re fed. In this respect, it exemplifies a broader issue plaguing the internet today. As my colleague Ian Bogost writes in a new story for The Atlantic, mapping apps are similarly afflicted: “Google makes 50 million edits to its map per day … adjusting details such as how roads are classified, where they join, which are closed due to construction, and so forth. All those changes may affect the quality of the apps’ instructions, and their propensity to map-splain, in ways that the designers cannot necessarily predict.”

— Damon

The Atlantic

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