In a recent address for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has urged world leaders to establish an international treaty to oversee the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The 86-year-old pontiff expressed concerns about the potential emergence of a “technological dictatorship” through the unbridled development and deployment of AI, posing a threat to global peace and democracy.
Pope Francis called for a “binding international treaty” to govern AI within an ethical framework. Emphasizing the unique human capacity for moral judgment, he underscored the need to differentiate between human ethical decision-making and the algorithms governing intelligent machines. He posed critical questions about the medium and long-term consequences of digital technologies on individuals, societies, international stability, and peace.
The pontiff specifically highlighted ethical concerns related to AI-controlled weapons systems, labeling them a “grave ethical concern.” He also expressed worries about the potential misuse of technology, citing interference in elections, the rise of surveillance societies, and growing inequalities as factors that could fuel conflicts and impede peace.
While cautioning against the negative impacts of AI, Pope Francis acknowledged the impressive achievements of science and technology, recognizing that AI presents exciting opportunities. He stressed the importance of addressing urgent questions surrounding the ethical use of AI.
The pope’s call for global AI regulation aligns with recent developments, including a provisional agreement on a new AI law by EU officials and ongoing discussions among bipartisan legislators in the United States regarding a regulatory framework for AI.
Despite his advocacy for AI regulation, Pope Francis acknowledged the positive potential of AI, recognizing it as a pivotal but high-stakes “gamble” for humanity’s future. This appeal for ethical AI practices comes in the wake of the pope himself falling victim to AI-generated deep-fake imagery earlier this year.