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Pope Francis urges global action in addressing ethical dilemmas of AI for world peace

Pope Francis has underscored the potential risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on global peace and urged the international community to adopt a binding international treaty to regulate its development and use.

In his message for the 57th World Day of Peace on January 1, 2024, the pontiff said the need for new technologies, including AI, should be directed towards “the pursuit of peace and the common good, in the service of the integral development of individuals and communities.”

He pointed out the inherent ambivalence of techno-scientific advances, stating that while progress in science and technology can lead to the betterment of humanity and the transformation of the world, it also poses risks that may endanger our common home.

“No technological innovation is neutral,” he said, adding that the ethical dimension of AI depends not only on its technical design but also on the aims and interests of its developers and users.

The Pope highlighted the ethical issues surrounding AI, including discrimination, manipulation, social control, and the weaponization of AI, particularly expressing concern about Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) potentially falling into the hands of terrorists.

“The most advanced technological applications should not be employed to facilitate the violent resolution of conflicts, but rather to pave the way for peace,” said Pope Francis.

He warned of the negative consequences of AI misuse, such as interference in elections, discrimination, the rise of a surveillance society, digital exclusion, and the exacerbation of individualism, all posing threats to world peace.

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“Technological developments that do not lead to an improvement in the quality of life of all humanity, but on the contrary aggravate inequalities and conflicts, can never count as true progress,” he said. 

He called for the establishment of bodies to examine ethical issues related to AI and protect the rights of those affected by its use. 

He said that technological developments should lead to an improvement in the quality of life for all humanity, promoting values such as inclusion, transparency, security, equity, privacy, and reliability.

“It is my prayer at the start of the New Year that the rapid development of forms of artificial intelligence will not increase cases of inequality and injustice all too present in today’s world, but will help put an end to wars and conflicts, and alleviate many forms of suffering that afflict our human family,” said the pontiff. 

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