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AI and the Vatican: A call for “algorethics”



Daniel Esparza - published on 02/16/23

Pope Francis calls for the promotion of a “digital anthropology” based on “algorethics.”

This January, representatives from the three bigger Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) launched an appeal for an ethical development of artificial intelligence. Promoted by the Vatican’s RenAIssance Foundation, the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Interfaith Relations, participants in the Rome Appeal for an Ethics of Artificial Intelligence met Pope Francis and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and of the RenAIssance Foundation, to sign a text calling for transparency and inclusion in the use of these technological tools.

“It is not acceptable that the decision on the life and destiny of a human being is entrusted to an algorithm,” Pope Francis said when he received the participants in the Rome Appeal for an Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

Understanding that caring for the ethical use of AI is aligned with the contents of his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis emphasized that the “concord” of the great religions in “promoting a culture that puts this technology at the service of the common good of all and the care of the common home” is an example for many others, recalling that technological development must be placed “at the service of justice and peace everywhere in the world.”

As artificial intelligence’s presence keeps on growing both in personal and social spaces, Pope Francis required that “algorethics, that is, ethical reflection on the use of algorithms, to be ever more present, not only in public debate, but also in the development of technical solutions.”

He expressed concern about “the discriminatory use of these tools at the expense of the most fragile and excluded,” pointing in particular to how the administrative processing of asylum applications is mostly handled by algorithms.

According to Pope Francis, the Rome Call is “a useful instrument for a common dialogue among all, in order to promote a human development of new technologies.”

Pope Francis explained that how the representatives of the Abrahamic faiths have responded to this appeal represents “a significant step to promote a digital anthropology, with three fundamental coordinates: ethics, education and law.”

Fratelli TuttiPope FrancisTechnology
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