Pope Francis urges ethical use of artificial intelligence

Pope Francis has praised the benefits of technology and AI, when used for the common good, but has warned against using AI unethically or irresponsibly. He did so when addressing the 'Minerva Dialogues,' a high-level annual gathering of scientists and experts, organized by the Vatican's Dicastery for Education and Culture, on Monday in the Vatican.

The assembly brings together experts from the world of technology – scientists, engineers, business leaders, lawyers and philosophers -and representatives of the Church – curial officials, theologians and ethicists – with the aim of studying and fostering greater awareness of the social and cultural impact of digital technologies, particularly artificial intelligence.

The Pope said: “I am convinced that dialogue between believers and nonbelievers on fundamental questions of ethics, science and art, and on the search for the meaning of life, is a path to peace and to integral human development.”

Technology is, and has been, he said, "immensely beneficial" to our human family, especially in the fields of medicine, engineering and communications. In acknowledging the practical benefits of science and technology, he noted, "we also see them as evidence of the creativity of human beings and the nobility of their vocation to participate responsibly in God's creative action."

"From this perspective," he said, "I am convinced that the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning has the potential to contribute in a positive way to the future of humanity." "At the same time," Pope Francis cautioned, "I am certain that this potential will be realized only if there is a constant and consistent commitment on the part of those developing these technologies to act ethically and responsibly."

“It is reassuring to know that many people in these fields are working to ensure that technology remains human-centred, ethically grounded and directed toward the good.”

He expressed appreciation for the consensus which has emerged, on the need for "development processes" to "respect such values as inclusion, transparency, security, equity, privacy and reliability." He also welcomed efforts of international organizations to regulate these technologies, so that "they promote genuine progress, contributing, that is, to a better world and an integrally higher quality of life."

Pope sends thousands of medicines to Turkey for earthquake victims

The Dicastery for the Service of Charity is sending more medicines to Istanbul according to the Pope’s wish to offer more assistance to victims of the 6 February devastating earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey causing 50,000 deaths.

Neighbouring Syria, devastated by the earthquake and war with 15 million people in distress, has already received financial aid from the Pope in the past thanks to the Apostolic Nunciature, which helps coordinate the process to help the population.

"We send the aid via Turkish airliners," explains Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner. "We monitor the height of the pallets and their weight. This effort is possible thanks to the help of volunteers.”

Right after the earthquake in February that displaced nearly two million people in Turkey, the Dicastery for the Service of Charity sent medicines but also tinned food such as rice and tuna, thermal shirts, nappies and many other materials that can withstand the weather and even the cold. At this same time, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, began his mission in Syria and Turkey.

Last Sunday, parishes throughout Italy made their first collection of offerings destined for the populations of Turkey and Syria, according to a project implemented by the Italian Episcopal Conference. The fundraising aims to be "a concrete sign of solidarity with participation of all believers in providing for the material and spiritual needs" of the earthquake victims. The fundraising campaign for donations will continue until 30 April 2023. Caritas Italy is also assisting with the efforts To meet the most urgent needs immediately, the Italian Episcopal Conference has taken an initial allocation of 500,000 euro from its “8xmille.

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