Pope Francis Welcomes AI Benefits, Wants Risks Mitigated

While addressing an audience in the Vatican recently, Pope Francis reiterated that artificial intelligence (AI) was to be used to serve humanity in an ethical way. He made these remarks to those who took part in the global convention on Generative AI and Technocratic Paradigm, which was organizated by CentesimusAnnus Pro Pontifice, under the Vatican.

The CentesimusAnnus foundation organizes meetings on matters related to the common good and economy as well as the common good and finance. The discussions are focused on devising ways to apply to social teachings of the Catholic Church.

In his address, the Holy Father noted that the intrinsic risks of artificial intelligence needed to be tempered. His statements come less than a month after he addressed the G7 Session in Italy on the same issue.

In his remarks, the Holy Father thanked the participants of the recent convention for committing to explore how artificial intelligence could be of assistance to the disadvantaged and help promote human dignity. He also appreciated the foundation for creating a space to discuss this issue with experts and scholars from different disciplines and nations, all focused on analyzing the risks and opportunities associated with the development and use of artificial intelligence.

In addition, he warned against AI acting autonomously, emphasizing that artificial intelligence was and needed to remain a tool in human hands. Furthermore, the Pope warned against AI being enabled to make decisions that may favor inequality, which was out of its scope.

While encouraging those present to assess the true purpose of artificial intelligence, the Pope also called attention to whether this technology focused on further enriching and giving even more power to the few tech giants in the space at the expense of humanity, or whether it served to improve the well-being of people and satisfy the needs of humanity. He observed that since humanity’s future would be advanced by technological innovation, we needed to not miss the chance to act and think in a new way — with heart, mind and hands — so as to direct innovation centered on the importance of human dignity.

This, the Holy Father added, was not up for debate. Additionally, the Pope saluted the foundation for committing to this cause, focusing on its recently launched research project. The project is a joint effort between the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities and the foundation. In his conclusion, the Holy Father offered a provocation.

Major players in the AI industry, such as Palantir Technologies Inc. (NYSE: PLTR), need to think carefully about the views of the Pope and see how to democratize the benefits of AI while taking measures to keep the risks of this new technology at bay.

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