Francis Raises Red Flag on Artificial Intelligence

Pope says human dignity should come first when dealing with AI
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2024 8:30 AM CDT
Francis Raises Red Flag on Artificial Intelligence
Pope Francis addresses world leaders at the G7 summit at the Borgo Egnazia resort in Italy on Friday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis challenged leaders of the world's wealthy democracies on Friday to keep human dignity foremost in developing and using artificial intelligence, warning that such powerful technology risks turning human relations themselves into mere algorithms. Francis brought his moral authority to bear on the Group of Seven, invited by host Italy, to address a special session at their annual summit on the perils and promises of AI. In doing so, he became the first pope to attend the G7, offering an ethical take on an issue that's increasingly on the agenda of international summits, government policy meetings, and corporate boards alike, per the AP. Francis said politicians must take the lead in making sure AI remains human-centric, so that decisions about when to use weapons or even less-lethal tools always remain made by humans and not machines.

"We would condemn humanity to a future without hope if we took away people's ability to make decisions about themselves and their lives, by dooming them to depend on the choices of machines," he said. "We need to ensure and safeguard a space for proper human control over the choices made by artificial intelligence programs: Human dignity itself depends on it." The G7 final statement largely reflected his concerns. The leaders vowed to better coordinate the governance and regulatory frameworks surrounding AI to keep it "human-centered." At the same time, they acknowledged the potential impacts on the labor markets of machines taking the place of human workers, and on the justice system of algorithms predicting recidivism.

By attending the summit, Francis joined a chorus of countries and global bodies pushing for stronger guardrails on AI following the boom in generative AI kick-started by OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot. The Argentine pope used his annual peace message this year to call for an international treaty to ensure AI is developed and used ethically. In it, he argued that a technology lacking human values of compassion, mercy, morality, and forgiveness is too perilous to develop unchecked. He didn't repeat that call explicitly in his speech on Friday, but he made clear the onus is on politicians to lead on the issue. He also urged them to ultimately ban the use of lethal autonomous weapons, colloquially known as "killer robots." "No machine should ever choose to take the life of a human being," he said. More here.

(More Pope Francis stories.)

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