Pope Francis puts Artificial Intelligence under microscope

Pope Francis puts Artificial Intelligence under microscope

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called upon all Catholics around the world and all people of good will to reflect on the recent technological development of Artificial Intelligence in modern communication and asses its impact in man’s quest to share information.

In His message for this year’s World Communication Sunday titled “Artificial intelligence and the wisdom of the heart: towards a fully human communication”, the Holy Father argues that the development of systems of artificial intelligence, is radically affecting the world of information and communication, and through it, certain foundations of life in society.

He begins his message by quoting Romano Guardini, who a century ago reflected on technology and humanity. In his writing, Guardini urged people not to reject “the new” in an attempt to “preserve a beautiful world condemned to disappear”. However, he prophetically warned that “we are constantly in the process of becoming. We must enter into this process, each in his or her own way, with openness but also with sensitivity to everything that is destructive and inhumane therein”. These problems, he said can only be resolved by starting from our humanity.

The Holy Father wishes that all these new technologies must be guided or developed in the light of the human person with enlightenment from scripture.

Therefore, listening to what He calls “wisdom of the heart” is very important aspect of developing technologies while respecting human dignity as the world shares information. This wisdom as given by scripture, lets itself be found by those who seek it and be seen by those who love it; it anticipates those who desire it and it goes in search of those who are worthy of it (cf.Wis6:12-16). It accompanies those willing to take advice (cf.Prov  13:10), those endowed with a docile and listening heart (cf.1 Kg3:9). A gift of the Holy Spirit, it enables us to look at things with God’s eyes, to see connections, situations, events and to uncover their real meaning.  

Thus, without this wisdom of the heart, Artificial intelligence becomes a danger to the human species and their communities, it creates castes and social differences based on the ability of communities to own and access such technologies. It destroys people’s images and distorts the truth such that people believe falsehood as if it were true.

Many people he says have fallen victims to these including the Holy Father himself. Through simulation, peoples images are made to appear to speak to an audience, human voices are mimicked in order to manipulate decisions of others. These make artificial intelligence fall short in its moral standing.

He proposes few questions that people must reflect in order to fully benefit from these advancements while remaining authentically human.  

Therefore He asks: How do we safeguard professionalism and the dignity of workers in the fields of information and communication, together with that of users throughout the world? How do we ensure the interoperability of platforms? How do we enable businesses that develop digital platforms to accept their responsibilities with regard to content and advertising in the same way as editors of traditional communications media? How do we make more transparent the criteria guiding the operation of algorithms for indexing and de-indexing, and for search engines that are capable of celebrating or canceling persons and opinions, histories and cultures? How do we guarantee the transparency of information processing?

This year’s World Communication Sunday which is the 58th will be celebrated on 12 May 2024. in Malawi, the Episcopal Conference sets a separate date on which it is commemorated by the Church in Malawi.