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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Vatican, Catholic colleges weigh-in on emerging AI ethics debate

Jack Jenkins
National Catholic Reporter
Originally posted May 25, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Mastrofini also noted that the partnership emerged after Pope Francis asked the academy to study the topic of ethics and AI.

"The technologies are advancing but they are not neutral," he told Religion News Service via email. "The Church, expert in humanity, can show the way for a development that makes the world more human and fair."

Microsoft officials declined to comment on the meeting.

The conversation between the Pope and Smith is one of several recent attempts by religious groups to wade into Silicon Valley's ongoing debate over the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Not long after Microsoft announced its partnership with the Vatican, Francis addressed the issue directly during a speech to a plenary meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Life. The pontiff noted that he had previously spoken to the seriousness of artificial intelligence during his January 2018 address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but doubled-down on the potential dangers of misusing technology.

"It should be noted that the designation of 'artificial intelligence,' although certainly effective, may risk being misleading," Francis told the Pontifical Academy. "The terms conceal the fact that — in spite of the useful fulfillment of servile tasks (this is the original meaning of the term 'robot'), functional automatisms remain qualitatively distant from the human prerogatives of knowledge and action. And therefore they can become socially dangerous."

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