- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2024

Pope Francis encouraged world leaders to keep “human control” over artificial intelligence, to not let such tech make life-and-death decisions and to ban the use of autonomous weapons such as militarized drones.

The Roman Catholic spiritual leader sounded an alarm on Friday about the “exciting and fearsome tool” of AI during the first remarks any pontiff has delivered to the Group of Seven leaders governing some of the world’s most powerful nations. President Joe Biden and the other leaders of the world’s leading industrial democracies were winding up a two-day summit in Italy.

The Pope said new AI tools represent the advent of a “true cognitive-industrial revolution,” according to an English-language translation of his remarks at the gathering in Italy released by the Vatican.

“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,” Pope Francis said. “Precisely in this regard, allow me to insist: In light of the tragedy that is armed conflict, it is urgent to reconsider the development and use of devices like the so-called ’lethal autonomous weapons’ and ultimately ban their use.”

The Pope met with Mr. Biden at the gathering in Italy and the Vatican said the pontiff had meetings set with leaders from several nations, including Brazil, France, India, Turkey and Ukraine.

The Pope’s solution to the pitfalls surrounding new AI tools involves a framework detailed in his Rome Call for AI Ethics, an appeal to morality in the development and use of AI tools first joined in 2020 by Microsoft, IBM and the Italian government, among others.

He said if the world cannot agree on values, he believed it could adopt principles for resolving dilemmas and consequences of the new technology.

The pontiff’s view of AI’s potential does not align him with the technology’s critics, who forecast widespread devastation to come from the new tech’s adoption, however.

He said he sees plenty of reason for hope — contingent on how humans use and regulate AI. The Argentine-born prelate said he expects AI may exponentially advance scientific research, democratize access to information, and potentially free humans from demanding work that can be done by machines.

For humans to make the best decisions about how to use AI, he told world leaders that healthy politics was needed.

“It is up to everyone to make good use of it but the onus is on politics to create the conditions for such good use to be possible and fruitful,” he said.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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