A delegation of the ‘Max Planck Society’ meets with Pope Francis A delegation of the ‘Max Planck Society’ meets with Pope Francis  (Vatican Media)

Pope says science must be at the service of humanity

Pope Francis greets members of the ‘Max Planck Society’, an association of German research institutes, and encourages them to place humanity at the centre of their research and projects.

By Sophie Peeters

A delegation of the ‘Max Planck Society’ was received by Pope Francis for a private audience in the Vatican Thursday morning.

The Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes. Founded in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, it was renamed the Max Planck Society in 1948 in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck.

In his address to the Society, Pope Francis highlighted the esteem of the Holy See for scientific research and, more specifically, for the work of the Max Planck Society in their commitment to the advancement of sciences and progress in specific areas of research.

The Pope also encouraged the Society to maintain standards of “pure science;” science that is uninfluenced by prejudices that are political or economic in nature.

Risks of artificial intelligence replacing human thought

In times of rapid technological change, the Pope cautioned against supplementing the intellectual and emotional thoughts of human beings with that of machines through artificial intelligence.

This brings to the forefront important issues for “both ethics and for society as a whole,” Pope Francis continued, as it raises the question of which direction we are heading and, therefore, what is the ultimate meaning of life.

Therefore, the Pope encouraged the Society to reflect on the question of how we solve problems with this new form of “hybrid thinking” resulting from human beings who use artificial machines to supplement thought and ask questions.

Responsibility for the care of others

Within this time of a “second modernity,” the Pope said the preference has often been given to the principle of “technical” responsibility, leaving no room for morality in the discernment of what is good or evil.

Functionalityy, Pope Francis continued, is given precedent today over what is ethically licit.

Rather, the Pope argued, caring for others should be the first priority rather than placing the end results above all.

“For, in the end, we are responsible not only for what we do, but also, and above all, for what we can do, and yet choose not to do.”

The Pope concluded his address by thanking the delegation for their visit and asking for the intercession of the Holy Spirit to assist them in their research and various projects.

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23 February 2023, 11:51