Pope Francis warns against artificial intelligence; highlights 'possibilities'

Pope Francis has urged for global reflection amid the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), noting its “disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects”.

| Updated on: Aug 09 2023, 11:40 IST
Pope Francis
Pope Francis joins a large list of scientists, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations as he speaks out on the dangers of AI. (REUTERS)
Pope Francis
Pope Francis joins a large list of scientists, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations as he speaks out on the dangers of AI. (REUTERS)

In 2023, we have seen just about everyone come out and take a stand, either for or against, the global phenomenon of artificial intelligence. From the godfathers of AI, Geoffrey Hinton, Yoshua Bengio, and Yann LeCun, entrepreneurs such as OpenAI's Sam Altman and Elon Musk, to Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Christopher Nolan, this disruptive technology has impacted professionals from all walks of life. And it seems even the clergymen cannot stop themselves from worrying about its potential danger. On Tuesday, Pope Francis issued a warning against the dangers of AI, highlighting its “disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects”.

As per a report by Reuters, Pope Francis wrote a message for the next World Day of Peace of the Catholic Church, that falls on the new year's day (January 1, 2024). The Vatican released the message well in advance, as per tradition. The Pope "recalls the need to be vigilant and to work so that a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded," the message read.

“The urgent need to orient the concept and use of artificial intelligence in a responsible way, so that it may be at the service of humanity and the protection of our common home, requires that ethical reflection be extended to the sphere of education and law,” it added.

The dangers of AI and the path of regulation

In the last few months, such alarms on the dangers of AI have been raised by many influential people. Many have highlighted AI issues around deepfakes, voice impersonation, the scope of cheating in academics, misleading or fake information in news media, copyright problems in the music industry, rising cases of scams and hacking, as well as larger issues of unemployment, governance and decision making, data privacy and in extreme cases, extinction of humanity.

And governments around the world have taken note of it as well. The European Union (EU) recently came out with its AI Act which is aimed at enforcing data privacy of citizens, transparency of data procurement, as well as establishing safeguards in companies dealing with this technology.

The US also recently announced that seven of its biggest corporations working with AI have pledged voluntary regulations on the rapid development of AI. Earlier this week, India also passed its Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2023 in the Lok Sabha. While the bill does not directly address the AI challenge, the data privacy norms are aimed at protecting the users. The government had also suggested that a regulatory framework will also be worked upon after understanding the direction AI takes.

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First Published Date: 09 Aug, 11:28 IST