HomeChurch in ActionVatican voices concern over autonomous weapons

Vatican voices concern over autonomous weapons

The Vatican has expressed deep ethical concerns over the development and utilization of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), emphasizing the need for stringent human oversight in their deployment. 

Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva stressed the ethical dilemmas posed by such technologies during the 2024 Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) meeting on Emerging Technologies in the realm of LAWS.

The prelate’s address reflected the sentiments of Pope Francis’s Message for the 2024 World Day of Peace, underscoring the moral imperatives and the potential perils associated with the weaponization of artificial intelligence, including autonomous drones and weapons systems. 

He warned of the risks of becoming detached from the human costs of warfare, stressing that the development of autonomous weapons raises “serious ethical questions related to the armaments sector.”

Archbishop Balestrero argued that autonomous weapons, by their very nature, lack moral agency and thus cannot be considered morally responsible entities. 

This lack of accountability, he pointed out, underscores the indispensable role of human judgment in the decision-making processes of warfare, where ethical considerations are paramount.

“Machines, being objects and not subjects, cannot truly think, feel, decide, or be held accountable for their actions,” Balestrero said. 

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He pointed out the limitations of machines in grasping the complex ethical dimensions of armed conflict.

The prelate reiterated the Vatican’s stance on the abolition of war and its advocacy for peace. He called for the GGE to focus on the prohibition and regulation of LAWS, urging that technological advancements be integrated into a framework that promotes human dignity and the common good.

“The real solution lies in the conversion to a culture of peace that places technological advancements at the service of humanity,” Archbishop Balestrero said. 

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