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Are we all in danger from AI?


Silvia Costantini - published on 10/07/22

An international online conference October 21, open to all, will answer this and many other questions. One of the presenters: the director of the Vatican observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno.

The humanoid robot Sophia, who was granted Saudi citizenship in 2017, was “interviewed” on Good Morning Britain that same year and spoke about what her “ideal husband” would be like.  

In China, for the first time in history, a virtual humanoid named Madame Tang Yu has become the CEO of a company. According to statements by the Net Dragon Websoft company, she was to optimize the company’s performance by making rational (uninfluenced by emotions) and completely transparent decisions. 

The revolution of totally robot-run hotels has begun in Japan, where robots do everything from welcoming guests to providing room service. 

These are just a few examples of how technology is entering our lives, forming a daily part of them, changing them, and opening up hitherto unknown scenarios — but above all posing many ethical and anthropological questions.

Understanding AI, and especially delving into anthropological questions related to this ongoing transformation, is the goal of “Masterclass Homo Roboticus for Global Leaders,”

a free international online event to be held on October 21, 2022 (10 a.m. – 1 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. GMT) at the initiative of the Vatican Dicastery for Culture and Education (formerly the Pontifical Council for Culture) and the CTN Foundation.

Among the keynote speakers will be Jesuit astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory Brother Guy Consolmagno, who recorded a video in preparation for the event in which he answers the question, “Should we be afraid of AI?”

“I had a friend in graduate school,” explains the Jesuit. “He was an astronomer who eventually became something of a computer maven, and when talking about computers he has a phrase that I’ve never forgotten. He says, ‘Data is not the same thing as information; information is not the same thing as knowledge; knowledge is not the same thing as understanding; understanding is not the same thing as wisdom.’”

According to Br. Consolmagno, “Computers are still basically dealing with data. I mean, the word intelligence itself is a pretty loaded term; we use these IQ tests, intelligence quotient tests, which mostly test how well you can do on IQ tests. It assumes that intelligence comes in one dimension.”

Computers still have a long way to go to reach human levels of thought; as the Jesuit wryly notes, “There is no computer so powerful as a human baby, and human babies, unlike computers, can be manufactured by unskilled labor.” 

“What it does mean is, if the day ever comes when we do have machines that have the ability to be self-aware, to have the ability to make free choices, we shouldn’t expect marvelous things or have great fears, because, for all of our cleverness, the human race has never come up with new sins, the poor will always be with us because we will always be greedy, we will always be envious, we will always want to show the other guy up, but at the same time we will also always have the virtues of faith, hope, and love.” 

“A computer that’s able to be self-aware is also a computer that will be able to love. Why should we ever be afraid of such a thing?” concludes Brother Consolmagno.

Other guests at this year’s Masterclass for Global Leaders will include Prof. Jeffrey Sachs (economist, Columbia University), Prof. Aleksandra Przegalińska (AI expert, MIT and Harvard), Dr. Ian Pearson (futurologist) and Giulio Tononi (neuroscientist), along with nearly 10 thousand leaders representing 65 international companies, universities, and organizations.

During the event they will talk about values and choices that can contribute to the creation of a new humanism and a new concept of human relations.

The event’s goal is, through the Masterclass Leadership program, to connect experienced leaders with the next generation of leaders so that young people can be inspired by them. The overall program is based on 15 leadership principles of Pope Francis.

The slogan of this educational program is “Serve to Lead” and “Giving Back.” They believe that investing in youth means investing in the future.

🔹 To register for the free program, click here

Video trailer 2022.

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