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Pope francis addressing the members of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life Pope francis addressing the members of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life  (Vatican Media)

Pope on artificial intelligence: Technology is a human characteristic

Pope Francis addresses the Pontifical Academy for Life in a Plenary Assembly marking 25 years of activity, on the theme “Roboethics. People, machines and health”.

By Francesca Merlo

Despite all of the potential that science has, the accumulation of it all does not always obtain the results hoped for, says Pope Francis when addressing the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for life.

All that science could offer

We know the problems our world is facing, says the Pope, and one of them is that we seem to be closing in more and more on ourselves. This, he says, underlines a “dramatic paradox”: that at the point in which science could offer the equal well-being that God wished for to all people, “we observe an embittering of conflicts and a growth of inequality”.

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There are two sides to technology, continues the Pope. On the one hand, we cannot go without it; on the other hand, it imposes its logic upon us. “Yet,” says the pope, “technology is a human characteristic”.

However, what we must understand, continues the pope, is that the artificial devices that simulate human capacities, are in fact, lacking in human qualities. These machines, says the Pope cannot take into consideration the phenomena of experience or that of conscience.

Benefits of science on every person

This must be taken into account, says the Pope, when imposing the regulations for the use of these machines, and in researching them. In order to work towards a constructive interaction between humans and the most recent versions of these machines, which he says “are radically transforming the scenario of our existence.” The Pope explains that “if we are able to make use of these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of new discoveries can radiate their benefits on every person and on humanity as a whole.”

Sharing in order to benefit

Pope Francis ends his address by saying that the task of the Academy is an honourable one in “the ethical alliance in favour of human life”. Now that we are surrounded by more and more sophisticated machinery, and that they directly involve human qualities, both physical and of the psyche, the sharing of information between those working in the field becomes more and more important.

He urges the participants at the Assembly to take the example of the faithful masters of this technology “who have wisely and boldly entered into the processes of their contemporaneity, with a view to an understanding of the heritage of faith at the height of a reason worthy of humanity”.

25 February 2019, 14:44