Martijn de Jong receives Porticus Grant to build chatbot

Martijn de Jong

Recently, it was announced that Professor Martijn de Jong of Erasmus School of Economics will receive a grant issued by the foundation Porticus. Porticus is a philanthropic organisation headquartered in the Netherlands. It was established in 1995 to professionally coordinate and develop the longstanding philanthropic activities of the Brenninkmeijer family business owners, the founders of global retailer C&A.

In his 2019 Exhortation Christus vivit following the Synod on Youth, Pope Francis encouraged young people to encounter God through various resources, including social media. The Covid pandemic provided the Church an unforeseen occasion to experiment and adapt technological tools to meet the needs of the faithful, especially young people, during the periods of confinement. Therefore, Porticus recently announced a call for applications for projects which are generating good practices and ideas for engaging young people (ages 18-25) in Europe, in the field of Catholic spiritual formation in the digital environment.

Development of a chatbot

Answering this call for applications, De Jong proposed a project that aims to develop an AI-driven, domain-specific chatbot for the young generation. The project was approved and it will leverage cutting-edge generative AI technology to make religious formation accessible, personalized, engaging, and adaptable. The chatbot will be global in nature and will be able to handle multiple languages. Furthermore, the chatbot should ‘ideally reflect the richness and depth of the Catholic tradition as much as possible, rather than being too narrow or dogmatic in its answers’, the Professor adds. The project is conducted in collaboration with the priest Michel Remery, director of the international initiative DeoQuest, which launched and maintains various projects that aim at stimulating thinking about faith.

Martijn de Jong is Professor of Marketing Research at Erasmus School of Economics and Director of the Catholic Advanced Analytics Center (CAAC). The CAAC organisation aims to improve decision-making in the Catholic Church through data analytics and to facilitate spiritual growth for Catholics using new technology.

More information

For more information, please contact Ronald de Groot, Media & Public Relations officer at Erasmus School of Economics:, +31 6 53 641 846.

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