Pope Francis sent out a video message to his followers on YouTube, urging them to pray that robots never turn on humanity, and that artificial intelligence will “always serve mankind.”
This is one of many messages that the pope sends out to his followers, called his monthly prayer intentions, which focus on specific topics and offer the pontiff's perspective on the issues at hand. Other videos released through this channel include a prayer for “the maritime world” and one titled “freedom for addiction.”
This month's discussion is on robots and artificial intelligence.
In his message, the pope said that artificial intelligence had the power to radically improve living conditions for many people on the planet, and that the technology is “at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing.”
He also urged caution, saying that the technology needed to be respected and used correctly. He also warned that AI could be used to further widen the gap between the rich and the poor, if it is not developed in a selfless way.
“Indeed, if technological progress increases inequalities, it is not true progress. Future advances should be orientated towards respecting the dignity of the person,” the pope said.
This is a subject that Francis has discussed publicly in the past as well. Earlier this year, the Vatican endorsed the “Rome Call for AI Ethics,” along with large tech companies like Microsoft and IBM, a document that outlines six general principles that should guide the deployment of artificial intelligence. These principles are transparency, inclusion, impartiality, responsibility, privacy and reliability.
“Future advances should be oriented towards respecting the dignity of the person and of creation. Let us pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind… we could say, may it ‘be human,’” Pope Francis proclaimed.
His warnings were not nearly as ominous as those that came from Elon Musk, who once compared working on artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon.”
The full video cam be seen below:
Francis is the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first pope from outside Europe since the Syrian Gregory III, who reigned in the 8th century. Francis is also one of the most outspoken Popes in generations.
Earlier this year, Francis became the first Catholic pope to openly endorse same-sex civil unions. The comments were made in “Francesco,” a new documentary about his life that recently premiered at the Rome Film Festival. The film features a series of new interviews where the pope discussed some of the issues that were most important to him, including the environment, poverty, racial and income inequality, and discrimination.
Francis maintains the traditional views of the Church regarding abortion, clerical celibacy, and the ordination of women, but has initiated dialogue on the possibility of deaconesses and has made women full members of dicasteries in the Roman curia. He has faced criticism from theological conservatives on many questions, including admitting civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to communion with the publication of Amoris laetitia.