In a recent address to the Minerva Dialogues, Pope Francis highlighted the importance of ethical and responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The annual gathering brings together experts from the world of technology and representatives of the Church to study and foster greater awareness of the social and cultural impact of digital technologies, particularly AI.
The Pope praised the benefits of technology in various fields, such as medicine, engineering, and communications. He noted that these advancements are evidence of the creativity of human beings and the nobility of their vocation to participate responsibly in God’s creative action. He stated that the development of AI and machine learning has the potential to contribute positively to the future of humanity, but only if there is a constant and consistent commitment from those developing these technologies to act ethically and responsibly.
“I am certain that this potential will be realized only if there is a constant and consistent commitment on the part of those developing these technologies to act ethically and responsibly,” said the Pope. “It is reassuring to know that many people in these fields are working to ensure that technology remains human-centered, ethically grounded, and directed toward the good.”
Pope Francis stressed that the intrinsic dignity of every human being should be the key criterion for evaluating emerging technologies. He cautioned against delegating judgments to algorithms that process data on an individual’s makeup and prior behavior. “The concept of intrinsic human dignity requires us to recognize and respect the fact that a person’s fundamental value cannot be measured by data alone,” he said.
He also expressed concern that digital technologies have increased inequality in our world. He called for international organizations to regulate these technologies, so that they promote genuine progress, contributing to a better world and an integrally higher quality of life. “Our true goal must be for the growth of scientific and technological innovation to be accompanied by greater equality and social inclusion,” said the Pope.
The Pope’s comments came as generative Large Language Models like chatGPT and Bard have been everywhere in the news and media, fueled by reports of the interesting and occasionally disturbing things users have gotten the AIs to do.