The Pontifical Academy of Sciences Acknowledges the Digital Revolution

November 04, 2019

The international summit organized in the Vatican on October 14-15, 2019 on the theme of “The Dignity and Future of Work in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” warns of several perverse effects of the digital economy.

Many experts, economists, philosophers, scientists, and even engineers have come in succession to the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to consider human development and social ties in the era of an even more invasive digital technology. Robotics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI) have indeed radically modified our way of working and interacting, generating new problems.

Sister Cécile Renouard, Sister of the Assumption, Professor of Social Ethics and Philosophy at the Sèvres Center, Director of the “Companies and Development” Research Program at the ESSEC Business School, speaking to Vatican News, presented a number of reflections considered during the symposium.

If digital technology can “promote access to better relations” and a “better level of education,” she explained, it can also be synonymous with “isolation, and give rise to addictive practices.” Both increasing automation and the places taken by Artificial Intelligence (AI) ​​lead to “the loss of meaning in work.” A recent study reveals that 30 to 40% of respondents in the United States have a more disparaging idea of ​​a trade when a robot can substitute for a man, from which there follows a great feeling of uselessness and frustration.

The uncontrolled increase in productivity and efficiency at the time of the digital revolution prevents a reflexive attitude towards a given trade. The omnipotence of the algorithm results in a growing lack of creativity.

For the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, it is urgent to “change the way we define the ‘good life.’”

Nevertheless, this last proposal covers areas of depressing horizontalness: personal and ecological development, anthropology, interpersonal skills, quality of life, interdependence. Living well, according to him, has declined in friendliness, time management, new ways of feeding ourselves, and digital restraint. And finally everything is related to environmental challenges, social progress, and carbon footprints.

This analysis and the proposed solutions make no reference at all to the supernatural life and last ends. Forgetting that the only way to “live well” resides in the doctrine of the Church, in the justice and peace that only Christ the King can give us.