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Pope Francis Calls for International Treaty to Regulate Artificial Intelligence

 |  December 14, 2023

In a message for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace, Pope Francis issued a compelling call for the creation of a legally binding international treaty to regulate the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Emphasizing the need to prevent algorithms from superseding human values, the pope expressed concerns about the potential rise of a “technological dictatorship” that could pose a threat to human existence, reported Reuters.

The message, titled “Artificial Intelligence and Peace,” is traditionally sent to world leaders and institutions such as the United Nations. Pope Francis urged nations to recognize the global scale of AI and emphasized the role of international organizations in reaching multilateral agreements to coordinate the application and enforcement of regulations.

“The global scale of artificial intelligence makes it clear that, alongside the responsibility of sovereign states to regulate its use internally, international organizations can play a decisive role in reaching multilateral agreements and coordinating their application and enforcement,” wrote Pope Francis in the message.

The call comes at a time when governments worldwide are grappling with the need to balance the benefits of AI technology, which can engage in human-like conversations, answer questions, and write computer code, with the necessity of establishing regulatory frameworks.

Notably, last week, the European Union reached a provisional deal on landmark rules governing the use of AI, covering areas such as biometric surveillance and the regulation of AI systems, including those like ChatGPT.

Pope Francis also addressed ethical concerns surrounding AI, urging scrutiny of the intentions and interests of AI’s developers and owners. He cautioned that some applications of AI could pose risks to human survival and the well-being of the planet, referencing the Earth as our “common home.”

“In an obsessive desire to control everything, we risk losing control over ourselves; in the quest for absolute freedom, we risk falling into the spiral of a ‘technological dictatorship,'” warned Pope Francis.

Expressing deep ethical concerns, the pope warned against the use of AI in weapons systems, particularly Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), emphasizing that autonomous weapon systems could never be morally responsible subjects. He stressed the importance of maintaining human oversight of weapon systems to ensure ethical decision-making.

During a news conference presenting the message, Cardinal Michael Czerny, head of the Vatican’s human development office, clarified that Pope Francis is not opposed to technological progress but rather concerned about AI being “perhaps the highest-stake gamble of our future.”

The pope’s call for international cooperation and regulation comes as technology companies, including OpenAI and Google’s Alphabet, continue to innovate in the field of AI, prompting both admiration and concerns about the ethical implications of these advancements.

Source: Reuters