This morning, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the participants in the meeting “A.I. Ethics: An Abrahamic commitment to the Rome Call”, organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the RenAIssance Foundation, taking place in the Casina Pio IV.
The following is the address delivered by the Pope to the signatories of the Rome Call for A.I. Ethics, to the members of the various delegations and those present during the audience:
Address of the Holy Father
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear brothers and sisters!
I thank Archbishop Paglia for his kind words; I greet Rabbi Eliezer Simha Weisz and Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah. I also greet Mr. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, Dario Gil, global vice president of OIBM, and Maximo Torero Cullen, chief economist of the FAO, the first signatories of the Rome Call, as well as the members of the various delegations present here.
I am grateful to the Pontifical Academy for Life and the RenAIssance Foundation for their efforts in promoting, through the Rome Call, shared ethics regarding the major challenges that open up on the horizon of artificial intelligence. After the first signature in 2020, today’s event sees the involvement also of the Jewish and Islamic delegations, which look at so-called artificial intelligence with an outlook inspired by the words of the Encyclical Fratelli tutti. Your concordance in promoting a culture that places this technology at the service of the common good of all and the care of the common home is exemplary for many others. Fraternity between everyone is the condition for placing technological development also to be at the service of justice and peace everywhere.
We are all aware of how much artificial intelligence is increasingly present in every aspect of daily life, both personal and social. It affects the way we understand the world and ourselves. The innovations in this field ensure that such instruments are increasingly decisive in human activity and even decisions. I therefore encourage you to continue in your efforts. I am glad to know that you also want to involve the other major world religions and men and women of good will so that algorethics, the ethical reflection on the use of algorithms, may be increasingly present not only in public debate but also in the development of technical solutions. Indeed, every person should be able to benefit from a humane and supportive development, without anyone being excluded. We must therefore be vigilant and work to ensure that a discriminatory use of these instruments does not prevail, at the expense of the most vulnerable and at the expense of the excluded. Let us always remember that the way in which we treat those considered the last and the least among our brothers and sisters tells us the value we accord to the human being. The example can be made of the requests of asylum seekers: it is not acceptable for decisions regarding the life and destiny of a human being to be entrusted to an algorithm.
The Rome Call can be a useful tool for common dialogue among all, in order to foster a humane development of the new technologies. In this regard, I reiterate that “in the encounter between different visions of the world, human rights represent an important point of convergence in the search for common ground. At present, there would seem to be a need for renewed reflection on rights and duties in this area. The scope and acceleration of the transformations of the digital era have in fact raised unforeseen problems and situations that challenge our individual and collective ethos” (Address to participants in the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy for Life, 28 February 2020). The adhesions to the Rome Call, which have grown over time, are a significant step towards promoting a digital anthropology, with three fundamental coordinates: ethics, education and the law.
I express my support for the generosity and dynamism with which you have committed yourselves, and I invite you to continue with boldness and discernment in the search for paths leading to an ever-broader involvement of all those who have the good of the human family at heart.
I invoke God’s blessing on you: God bless you all, so that your journey may proceed with serenity and peace, in a spirit of collaboration. May my blessing be with you and accompany you. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you!