Pope Francis is advocating for a worldwide agreement to monitor and control artificial intelligence, warning against the potential for a "technological dictatorship."

Pope Francis is advocating for a worldwide agreement to monitor and control artificial intelligence, warning against the potential for a “technological dictatorship.”

On Thursday, Pope Francis urged for a global agreement to ensure ethical development and use of artificial intelligence. He expressed concern that technology lacking human values such as compassion, mercy, morality, and forgiveness could pose significant risks.

Francis joined the growing number of voices advocating for worldwide, mandatory regulation of AI in his yearly message for the World Day of Peace, observed by the Catholic Church every January 1st. The Vatican published the message on Thursday.

An image generated by artificial intelligence of him dressed in a high-end white puffer coat.

The video gained immense popularity, demonstrating the rapid spread of realistic deepfake images on the internet.

The initial set of AI regulations, deemed to be a benchmark for governments in developing their own standards, has been established.

In the last year, the world has been captivated by artificial intelligence, particularly due to impressive advancements made by state-of-the-art systems such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. These systems have amazed users with their ability to produce text, photos, and songs that are indistinguishable from those created by humans. However, this technology has also sparked concerns about its potential negative impacts on employment, privacy, copyright protection, and even human existence.

Francis recognized the potential of AI and commended advancements in technology as a representation of human ingenuity, echoing the Vatican’s statement at the recent U.N. General Assembly where numerous global leaders discussed both the potential benefits and dangers of this technology.

However, his recent message promoting peace delved deeper and highlighted the serious ethical and human rights concerns surrounding technology that has the potential to drastically alter daily life and potentially disrupt important aspects such as democratic elections and art.

According to Cardinal Michael Czerny from the Vatican’s development office, artificial intelligence could potentially be the riskiest bet for our future. He made this statement during a press conference on Thursday, where he introduced the message. He also stated that if AI has negative consequences, it is humanity’s responsibility.

The document emphasized the importance of ensuring basic human rights, promoting peace, and preventing disinformation, discrimination, and distortion in the development and use of AI technology.

Francis expressed deep concern about the incorporation of AI technology in the armaments industry, an issue that he has consistently addressed as the Jesuit pope. He has even referred to conventional weapons producers as “merchants of death.”

He observed that the use of remote weapons systems has created a disconnect from the immense suffering of war and a decreased awareness of the destruction caused by these weapons and the weight of responsibility for their deployment.

He stated that the ability to make moral judgments and ethical decisions is not simply a set of complicated algorithms, and cannot be replicated by programming a machine.

He urged for appropriate, significant, and reliable human supervision of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), stating that the world does not require additional technologies that only serve to support the absurdity of war.

At a simpler level, he expressed concern about the significant impact on society caused by automated systems that classify or label individuals. Beyond the potential loss of jobs due to automation, Francis pointed out that this technology could also dictate an individual’s eligibility for a mortgage, their ability to seek political asylum as a migrant, or the likelihood of reoffending for someone with a criminal record.

He stated that we should not let algorithms dictate our understanding of human rights, disregard important human qualities such as empathy, kindness, and forgiveness, or take away the chance for an individual to grow and move on from their past.

Francis sees the problem as conflicting with his role as pope, which includes speaking out against social inequalities, supporting migrants, and serving prisoners and marginalized individuals.

The pope did not go into specifics about a potential treaty, but emphasized that it must be discussed and agreed upon globally in order to promote responsible practices and prevent harmful ones. He also stated that technology companies cannot be relied upon to self-regulate.

He reused familiar reasoning to criticize multinational corporations for depleting natural resources on Earth and causing poverty for Indigenous communities who rely on them.

Whenever individuals give in to the allure of selfishness, personal gain, greed, and the pursuit of power, the ideals of freedom and peaceful coexistence are put at risk, according to his writing.

Barbara Caputo, a professor at the Artificial Intelligence Hub of the Turin Polytechnic University, observed that there is already agreement on certain key ethical concerns and terms in both the European Union’s regulation and the executive order announced by U.S. President Joe Biden in October.

During the Vatican briefing, she emphasized that this is a significant development. It indicates that there will be a shared regulatory framework for those looking to create artificial intelligence.

Source: cbsnews.com