“Pope Francis calls for an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies…”
Pope Francis has AI on the mind.
Just weeks after the release of the Vatican’s official guide to AI ethics — a surprising project developed in collaboration with the very secular folks over at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics — Pope Francis is making his AI concerns clear once again, using this year’s World Peace Day to issue a call for AI responsibility and caution.
“The remarkable advances made in the field of artificial intelligence,” proclaims the official Vatican bulletin, “are having a rapidly increasing impact on human activity, personal and social life, politics and the economy,” adding that “Pope Francis calls for an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects.”
Asking for an open dialogue about the breadth of AI’s potential impacts, good, bad, and complicated?? You and us both, buddy.
Of course, the Supreme Pontiff isn’t the only world leader who’s worried about AI’s implications. He is the only world leader, however, to have had a hyperrealistic, AI-generated photo of himself in streetwear drip go hugely viral, to the point that a massive chunk of the internet firmly believed that it was real.
Some experts saw the event as a wake-up call to the potential impacts of AI-generated imagery and deepfakes, and if we were a betting crowd, we’d wager that the virality of the picture had a significant influence on the (real) Pope, too.
Pie in the Sky
The World Peace Day message also touched on elements of technological discrimination, arguing, among other things, that preventing “a logic of violence and discrimination” from infiltrating AI production is essential. And as the message was mostly just a broad call to AI responsibility and ethics, it’s hard to disagree with, well, any of it.
That said, though the message is chock full of agreeable sentiments, it bears reminding everyone, here that humanity has yet to figure out a roadmap capable of achieving these loftier, values-driven AI goals.
Not that we necessarily expect the Pontiff, who heads one of the world’s most archaic institutions (and is also on record claiming he doesn’t know how to work a computer) to do that work, of course. But: As a general note, keeping the collective focus on actionable steps — like, say, the US government writing any meaningful AI regulation into law — is probably our best bet for ensuring AI responsibility in the near term.
More on the Pope’s AI thoughts: The Pope Just Released a Guide to Artificial Intelligence