Pope Francis sounds the alarm on artificial intelligence at the G7 summit

BARI, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis challenged the leaders of the world’s wealthy democracies on Friday to uphold human dignity above all in the development and use of artificial intelligence, warning that such powerful technology risks turning human relationships themselves into mere algorithms.

Francis has used his moral authority to influence the G7, which host Italy has invited to address a special session at their annual summit on the risks and promises of artificial intelligence. In doing so, he became the first pope to attend a G7 summit, offering a moral perspective on an issue that is increasingly on the agenda of international summits, government policy and corporate boardrooms alike.

Francis said politicians must take the lead in ensuring that AI remains human-centred, so that decisions about when to use weapons or even less lethal tools will always be made by humans, not machines.

“We will condemn humanity to a hopeless future if we deprive people of their ability to make decisions about themselves and their lives, by condemning them to depend on the choices of machines,” he said. “We need to ensure and protect space for appropriate human control over the choices made by AI programs: human dignity itself depends on it.”

Francis joins a group of countries and global bodies pushing for stronger guardrails on AI in the wake of the boom in generative AI started by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot.

The Argentine Pope used his annual message of peace this year Call for an international treaty to ensure artificial intelligence Developed and used ethically. He argues that technology that lacks the human values ​​of compassion, compassion, morality and tolerance is too risky to be developed unchecked.

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He did not explicitly repeat this call in his speech on Friday, but he made clear that the responsibility falls on politicians to lead on this issue. He called on them to eventually ban the use of lethal autonomous weapons, known colloquially as “killer robots.”

“No machine should choose to take a human life,” he said.

Addressing the leaders around the table, he concluded, “It is up to everyone to make good use of (artificial intelligence), but the responsibility lies with politics to create the conditions that make this good use possible and fruitful.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni He called Francis and announced his participation, knowing the potential impact of his star power and moral authority on the G7. The people at the table looked duly terrified, and the loud noise in the room quieted completely when Francis arrived.

“The pope is a very special kind of celebrity,” said John Kirton, a political science professor at the University of Toronto and director of the G7 Research Group.

The last summit that had that kind of star power, which then translated into action, was at a 2005 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, Kirton recalled. There, world leaders decided to cancel $40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the world’s poorest countries to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The summit was preceded by a Live 8 concert in London featuring Sting, The Who and Pink Floyd, attracting more than a million people in a show of solidarity against hunger and poverty in Africa.

“Gleneagles has had great success on its home turf and, for some, is one of the most successful summits,” Kirton said.

Such popular pressure is not being applied to the world’s G7 leaders Puglia region of ItalyBut Francis knew he could exercise his moral authority to renew his demands for safeguards for artificial intelligence and highlight the threats to peace and society if human ethics are left aside.

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“To talk about technology is to talk about what it means to be human, and therefore about our unique position as beings who possess both freedom and responsibility,” he said. “That means talking about ethics.”

Generative AI technology has stunned the world with its abilities to produce human-like responses, but it has also raised concerns about the safety of AI and led to a host of global efforts to curb it.

Some worry about the catastrophic but remote risks to humanity of its ability to create new biological weapons and spread disinformation. Others worry about its impact on daily life, through algorithmic bias that leads to discrimination or artificial intelligence systems that eliminate jobs.

In his peace message, Francis echoed these concerns and raised others. He said Amnesty International must maintain key concerns about ensuring basic human rights, promoting peace and protecting against disinformation, discrimination and distortion.

On the regulatory front, Francis will in some ways preach to converts, as G7 members have been at the forefront of the debate on AI oversight.

Japan, which assumed the rotating presidency of the G7 last year, launched the Hiroshima AI process to establish international guidelines and a code of conduct for AI developers. In addition to these efforts, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last month Unveiling a framework for global regulation Generative AI, which are systems that can quickly produce new text, images, video, and audio in response to prompts and commands.

The European Union was one of the first movers thanks to its broad scope The Artificial Intelligence Law, which is scheduled to come into force within the next two years It can serve as a global model. The law targets any AI product or service offered in the 27 European Union countries, with restrictions imposed on the level of risks they pose.

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In the United States, President Joe Biden issued Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence Safeguards It called for legislation to strengthen it, while some states preferred that California And Colorado They have tried to pass their own AI bills, with mixed results.

Antitrust officials Both sides of the Atlantic Ocean It has been Auditing major artificial intelligence companies Including Microsoft, Amazon and OpenAI On whether their dominant positions stifle competition.

Britain has begun a global dialogue about reining in artificial intelligence Extreme risks with the summit last fall. In a Follow-up meeting In Seoul, companies pledged to develop the technology safely. France is scheduled to host another meeting in the series early next year. The United Nations also contributed to this First decision On artificial intelligence.

On the sidelines of his speech at Amnesty International, Francis spent a full day of bilateral meetings. He held meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in addition to invited leaders from Algeria, Brazil, India, Kenya and Turkey. He will also meet with members of the G7, including Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.


Chan reported from London.

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