Pope Francis has urged believers to pray that artificial intelligence and robots “always serve mankind.”
In one of his monthly “prayer intentions”, which has been shared on YouTube, the pope suggested he was concerned about technology.
The message implied AI and robots could further increase inequalities.
He said AI was “at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing.”
He also acknowledged that robotics had the power to change the world in a positive way.
However, they will only change the world for the better if harnessed correctly, reports The verge.
The pope said: “Indeed, if technological progress increases inequalities, it is not true progress.
“Future advances should be orientated towards respecting the dignity of the person.”
Pope Francis has asked believers around the world to pray that robots and artificial intelligence “always serve mankind.”
The message is one of the pope’s monthly prayer intentions, regular missives shared on YouTube that are intended to help Catholics “deepen their daily prayer” by focusing on particular topics or events. In August, the pope urged prayer for “the maritime world”; in April, the topic was “freedom for addiction.” Now, in November, it’s AI and robots.
Although the Pop’s message sounds similar to warnings issued by tech notables like Elon Musk (the Tesla CEO famously compared work on artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon”), the pope’s focus is more prosaic.
He doesn’t seem to be worrying about the sort of exotic doomsday scenario where a super intelligent AI turns the world into paperclips, but more about how the tech could exacerbate existing inequalities here and now.
In his message, the pope said AI was “at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing” and that robotics had the power to change the world for the better. But this would only be the case if these forces are harnessed correctly, he said.
Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t new territory for the pope. Earlier this year, the Vatican, along with Microsoft and IBM, endorsed the “Rome Call for AI Ethics” — a policy document containing six general principles that guide the deployment of artificial intelligence. These include transparency, inclusion, impartiality, and reliability, all sensible attributes when it comes to deploying algorithms.
Although the pope didn’t touch on any particular examples in his video, it’s easy to think of ways that AI is entrenching or increasing divisions in society.
Examples include biased facial recognition systems that lead to false arrests and algorithmically allotted exam results that replicate existing inequalities between students. In other words: regardless of whether one thinks prayer is the appropriate course of action, the pope believes Artificial intelligence and Robots are a plus to humanity and a welcome idea that should be maximally exploited.