Pope weighs in on AI ethics debate

Pope weighs in on AI ethics debate

The Pontiff is the latest public figure to offer an opinion on the ethics of using artificial intelligence (AI), issuing a set of principles on the use of new technology.

The Vatican has produced the Rome Call for AI Ethics, which calls for AI technology to respect privacy, work reliably and without bias, operate transparently and "consider the needs of all human beings". 

Tech giants Microsoft and IBM have been recruited to act as technology sponsors for a project that apparently grew out of concerns raised by Pope Francis more than a year ago about the societal impact of AI 

"His major concerns were, will it be available to everyone, or is it going to further bifurcate the haves and the have-not's?" said John Kelly II, executive vice president of IBM and one of the signatories for the document, in comments reported by Reuters. 

The document was promoted as part of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life conference on AI ethics held this week. It remains to be seen how or if the papal principles will be adopted by businesses, although IBM's Kelly did tell Reuters that IBM has turned down business when they have felt uncomfortable about how their AI technology would be used. 

The ethical use of technology has gained greater prominence in recent months. Concern over civil liberties, privacy and bias have been raised over news that law enforcement agencies are looking to use facial recognition technology to identify criminals. Meanwhile the lack of transparency into the various AI black boxes used in trading, banking and wealth management platforms, have long been a concern for the financial services industry.  

 

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