Pope: Reconsider the development of lethal autonomous weapons

Pope Francis send 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.

Jul 10, 2024

Participants in the AI Ethics for Peace event in Hiroshina

By Francesca Merlo
As people gather to discuss “AI Ethics for Peace” in Hiroshima, Japan, on 9 and 10 July, Pope Francis sends a message, highlighting that discussing peace and artificial intelligence in the city, still suffering 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”.

It is crucial, the Pope continued, 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”. Turning back to the heart of many his appeals throughout his pontificate, he reiterated, “No machine should ever choose to take the life of a human being’”.

Contibution of all for a just regulation
Bringing his message to an end, Pope Francis asked 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 emphasised, “is key to the success of your commitment to the wise management of technological innovation”.

Finally, Pope Francis expressed 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”.--Vatican News

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