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Rabbi uses ChatGPT to write sermon

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(NewsNation) — There’s been talk about ChatGPT in schools, but the artificial intelligence tool has made its way to weekly sermons.

Rabbi Joshua Franklin in New York revealed to his congregants that the words he was reading were actually written using artificial intelligence.

“I gave it a prompt,” Franklin said. “I said, ‘Write a sermon in the voice of a rabbi of about a thousand words’… and that’s what it came up with.”

Franklin used the computer-generated sermon to introduce a larger conversation about how spirituality functions “in a world that is driven by data and driven by information.”

He promised not to “plagiarize” again, but AI researcher and Florida Gulf University Professor Chrissann Ruehle said it’s not unlikely that pastors and other religious leaders might rely on resources like ChatGPT.

“It’s really designed to mirror human conversation and dialogue,” she said.

Ruehle described ChatGPT as just another tool, especially in terms of efficiency.

Try as it might, artificial intelligence doesn’t always generate quality work, said Timothy P. O’Malley, education director at University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute of Church Life.

“People have been stealing sermons forever,” O’Malley said. “So they’re stealing sermons from sources online. This has been happening since the internet existed. All this is doing is having AI write a sort of mediocre sermon.”

What AI lacks, Franlkin said, is empathy and human emotion — for now.

“Your sermons will be written by me from now on,” Franklin said. “That was the last one. Shabbat shalom everybody.”

NewsNation digital reporter Katie Smith contributed to this report.

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