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Pope Francis on Artificial Intelligence and Peace

There is a great deal of discussion around the wonders and worries attached to the rapid development of artificial intelligence, commonly known as “AI”.

Pope Francis has dedicated his recent message for the World Day of Peace to this subject. What, you may ask, does the development of AI have to do with world peace? A great deal according to Pope Francis.

To begin with, Pope Francis pointed out that the use of algorithms which control the information placed before us, is meant to lead us to various activities that correspond to the commercial and cultural influences of the society in which we live. They necessarily limit our conscious use of freedom. “Information technology,” the Holy Father said, “is not disembodied and neutral, but subject to cultural influences.”

From these reflections, it is easy to see that the advancement of AI is also subject to the interests of the developers and those who stand to profit from it. The Pope energetically pointed out that “freedom and peaceful coexistence are threatened whenever human beings yield to the temptation to selfishness, self-interest, the desire for profit and the thirst for power.” The Holy Father insists that for artificial intelligence to serve our best human interests, it must be regulated.

The Pope then went on to clearly enumerate some very real risks which an anonymous and impersonal us of AI in everyday situations, from finding work, to obtaining a visa, risk to individual persons. He completed his list by mentioning the terrifying aspect of the “autonomous weapons system” increasing the weapons trade, and worse, falling into the wrong hands and leading to untold destruction.

Pope Francis did not fail to mention some positive uses for AI which would contribute to authentic human development. Among these are agriculture, education and culture. The Holy Father wisely suggested that “an authentically humane outlook and the desire for a better future for our world surely indicates the need for a cross-disciplinary dialogue aimed at an ethical development of algorithms-an algor-ethics-in which values shaped the direction taken by new technologies.” Click here to read the entire message.

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