The Pope at the G7 to Discuss Artificial Intelligence

Source: FSSPX News

For the first time in its history, the Group of Seven (G7), a very exclusive club bringing together seven of the most economically dynamic states on the planet, received the head of the Catholic Church, in order to discuss the subject of artificial intelligence.

On June 14, 2024, Francis came to speak to the G7 meeting in Bari about a thorny subject studied for several years by the Holy See: artificial intelligence (AI). It is enough to make one smile when the Pope loudly proclaims “that he does not know how to use a computer,” recalls the Washington Post (WP).

The venture actually began five years ago, continues the WP, when Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, was received in a private audience at the Vatican to discuss future developments in AI. Francis then said to his interlocutor, as he was leaving: “Keep your humanity.”

And the WP recalled how the Pope was able to realize the dangers through the viral diffusion of artificial images representing him in a Balenciaga down jacket. AI has become a hot topic in the new era of deepfakes.

Faced with technological progress, the Vatican therefore wanted to appear as the conscience of digital companies, believing that its voice is influential in the debate on the global governance of AI.

The Pontiff outlined “the ramifications of a technology that is 'as fascinating as it is terrifying' and that could change 'the way we understand our identity as human beings.” The Pope did not fail to “denounce the way in which AI could achieve a new hegemony of Western culture and diminish human dignity,” according to the AP.

He said that AI is “a tool that could popularize knowledge, ‘exponentially’, advance science, and alleviate the human condition,” continues the WP, by entrusting “the arduous tasks to machines.” But he warned that the algorithm also had the power to destroy, and “called for an ‘urgent’ ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS).”

During the bilateral meetings, the Pope mentioned the 2020 Rome Call for AI Ethics, from the Pontifical Academy for Life, which aims “to give concrete application to the concept of ‘algorethics,’ or giving ethics to algorithms.” The appeal was signed by IBM, Microsoft, the UN, Italy, and a number of universities, which urged transparency and respect for privacy.

Referring to his relationship with the head of the Catholic Church, Brad Smith, the head of Microsoft joked: “At first glance, when you look at us, you might say to yourself ‘what a strange couple they make,’ but on closer inspection, it’s an ideal partnership,” according to the WP.

We must not delude ourselves: for the digital giants – Gafam, i.e. Google, Apple, Meta (Facebook), Amazon, and Microsoft – good relations with the Holy See help to refine their ethical image when criticisms arise that might hinder their development.

On the side of the Holy See, the account is also good: it is the opportunity to make its voice heard in the field of social doctrine, to appear as a mediator on the international scene, and also to allow the Church to take up the subject of AI and its challenges.

The situation with AI fully illustrates the thesis of Marcel de Corte in his famous book on Intelligence in Peril of Death, whose central thesis is that, under the influence of Marxism in particular, man has turned away from the gratuitous consideration of the world and theoretical discoveries to attach himself to what can give him an advantage. Human intelligence is then in danger of death, because it tries little to understand (or to contemplate), but rather seeks to achieve its material well-being.