Why Pope Francis thinks the Church should participate in the G7 debate on AI.

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A photo of Pope Francis wearing a stylish white puffer jacket went viral last year, sparking comments about his choice of clothing and even whether he even had a stylist. Questions arise. But there was a problem: the photo was a “deep fake” created using artificial intelligence.

This week, the Pope is scheduled to make a historic intervention in the debate around AI at the G7 summit in the Puglia region of southern Italy. On Friday, Francis will become the first pope to attend a summit of the world's most advanced economies when he takes part in a session dedicated to AI. US President Joe Biden, a Catholic who has a warm relationship with Francis, is among the leaders expected to attend the gathering.

The 87-year-old pope is determined to use the soft power of his office to try to ensure that AI development serves humanity and doesn't turn into a 21st-century Frankenstein's monster.

For Pope, who trained as an alchemist as a young man, advances in science and technology should be welcomed. He believes that AI offers exciting new opportunities. But the Pope also foresees some serious risks.

In a message released late last year, he warned that a “technological dictatorship” could emerge. If not enough regulation was put in place, highlighting the dangers posed by AI-controlled weapons systems and the risks to the surveillance society of misuse of the technology and election interference. The Pope believes that AI can only make the world a better place if it serves the “common good” and does not increase inequality.

The Pope and the Vatican are pushing for an ethical framework to promote the development and use of AI. Since 2020, the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, an institution Catholic moral teachings on biology have been promoted. “Room Call for AI Ethics”, a document that sets out six principles for AI ethics, including transparency, inclusion, responsibility and impartiality.

The Vatican is seeking buyouts from big tech companies and governments. So far, the document has been signed by Microsoft ( MSFT ), IBM ( IBM ), and Cisco Systems ( CSCO ), as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Italy's innovation ministry, and several religious leaders.

At the G7 summit, the Pope will urge world leaders to work together on the regulation of AI, following a “binding international agreement” late last year to curb harmful practices and encourage best practices. Echoing the demand of EU legislators have already passed a law regulating AI, while a bipartisan group of US senators has laid out plans for AI regulation that could lead to federal legislation.

“The pope is not an engineer, but he is concerned about the social aspects and implications of AI,” Father Paolo Benanti, a Franciscan friend and professor working with the Vatican on the issue of AI, told CNN. Benanti is also a member of the United Nations Advisory Body on AI. At the G7, he expects the pope to emphasize elements of his previous messages on the subject.

“Francis' primary focus is on what new technologies mean for our coexistence: what elements of AI are creating inequality for humanity, and topics such as the distribution of fake news in the public square. He takes a global view and sees that the global south does not have the same access to technology as other parts of the world.

Benanti said Francis was sensitive to the “great challenges facing humanity”. That he began his pontificate by highlighting the plight of refugees. He has also mentioned the threat posed by climate change in an important papal document. And is now focusing on AI, Benanti added.

From mid-journey

The AI-generated image was created using a tool called Midjourney.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told CNN that “only regulation at the international level can produce valid and appreciable results in preventing the misuse, manipulation and instrumentalization of new technologies.” The academy's push for more ethical AI, he added, is to ensure “a sustainable development path for all of humanity.”

Italy, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the G7, last year temporarily banned ChatGPT, a chatbot and virtual assistant, over privacy concerns and plans to impose fines for misuse of AI. Is. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said she believes the Pope's presence in Puglia will “play a decisive role in developing an ethical and cultural regulatory framework” for AI. He said it was vital to apply “the best moral and intellectual reflections” in this area. Helping create “Rom's Call for AI Ethics”. The theory of “algorithics”—for ethics Algorithm

Francis' decision to become the first pope to attend the G7 summit signals his desire to “actually have real discussions,” papal adviser Father Antonio Spadaro posted on X, formerly Twitter. While in Puglia, Francis will have the opportunity to speak directly with decision-makers, and his decision reflects the pope's vision for the church. One who engages with the world instead of withdrawing from it.

Father Philip Leary, author of a book on AI, “Artificial Humanity” and former dean of the philosophy department at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University, called Francis' decision to participate “quite surprising” but one Leary believes “will have an impact.” style will be the outcome of the summit.

“AI and emerging technologies are on Pope Francis' radar screen,” Leary, now a philosophy professor at Boston College, told CNN. “(He) wants to use the richness of the Catholic tradition to consider the importance of considering the ethical implications of AI. And his personal presence in (Puglia) testifies to the urgency of this message: he often Refers to 'person-centered AI' to make a point.

The “deep fake” photo of the Pope in a puffer jacket became a landmark moment for the development of AI and deep forgery, demonstrating the new technology's power to manipulate images.

Francis addressed this earlier this year, warning about the spread of misinformation and images that “seem perfectly plausible but false.” He pointed out: “I've been an object of that too.”

It wasn't just the puffer jacket photo: The Pope has repeatedly been the subject of deep spoofing, with computer-generated images of him skateboarding, riding a motorcycle and mingling at the Burning Man festival in Nevada.

It's clear that Francis sees AI as part of the “epochal change” taking place at the start of the 21st century.

His decision to attend the G7 summit indicates that he wants the church. To be at the center of the conversation about how this change unfolds, and to help ensure that new technologies can benefit all of humanity.

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