Participants in the AI Ethics for Peace event in Hiroshima Participants in the AI Ethics for Peace event in Hiroshima 

Pope: Reconsider the development of lethal autonomous weapons

Pope Francis sends a message to a Hiroshima conference on "AI Ethics for Peace," emphasising the symbolic importance of discussing peace in a city scarred by atomic tragedy.

By Francesca Merlo

As religious leaders from across the world gather to discuss “AI Ethics for Peace” in Hiroshima, Japan, on 9 and 10 July, Pope Francis sends a message, pointing out that discussing peace and artificial intelligence in the city that still suffers the consequences of the atomic bomb that almost destroyed it completely in August 1945, “is of great symbolic importance”.

AI and Peace

Artificial intelligence and peace, he says, are two issues of supreme importance. The Pope recalled his most recent appeal on this matter to the political leaders of the G7 as they gathered in Puglia, Italy. During that meeting Pope Francis emphasised the importance of keeping decision-making in human hands rather than relying on machines, explaining that “the machine makes a technical choice among several possibilities based either on well-defined criteria or on statistical inferences. Human beings, however, not only choose but in their hearts are capable of deciding”.


True decisions

He says that true decisions require human wisdom and evaluation and an over-reliance on artificial intelligence could undermine human dignity.

This is precisely what we saw in Hiroshima and continue to see today, and “among the current conflicts impacting our world – including the hatred of war – we hear more and more about this technology”, he adds.

It is crucial, the Pope continues, that, “united as brothers and sisters, we remind the world that in light of the tragedy that is armed conflict, it is urgent to reconsider the development and use of devices like the so-called ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ and ultimately ban their use”. Reiterating his plea, at the heart of many his appeals throughout his pontificate, he repeats: “No machine should ever choose to take the life of a human being’”.

Contribution of all to a just regulation

Bringing his message to an end, Pope Francis asks that as we look at the complexity of the issues before us, “we recognise the contribution of the cultural riches of peoples and religions in the regulation of artificial intelligence”. This, he emphasises, “is key to the success of your commitment to the wise management of technological innovation”.

Finally, Pope Francis expresses his hope that the gathering might “bear fruit in bringing about fraternity and cooperation”, before praying that “each of us may become instruments of peace for the world”.

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10 July 2024, 09:15