Artificial intelligence and peace

A citizen's view

 

January 10, 2024



In his message for the 57th World Day of Peace this Jan. 1, Pope Francis reflected on the impact of artificial intelligence on world peace and urges the international community to adopt a binding international treaty that regulates its development and use. New technologies must always be directed to “the pursuit of peace and the common good, in the service of the integral development of individuals and communities.” Pope Francis urges world leaders to ensure that progress in developing forms of artificial intelligence “will ultimately serve the cause of human fraternity and peace.” 

In his message, Pope Francis draws attention to the ethical dimension “of these new technologies which are revolutionizing humanity in all spheres of life, highlighting the ambivalence inherent in any progress in science and technology.” On the one hand, he says, it can lead to the betterment of humanity and the transformation of the world if it “contributes to greater order in human society and greater fraternal communion and freedom.”


On the other hand, techno-scientific advances, especially in the digital sphere, “are placing in human hands a vast array of options, including some that may pose a risk to our survival and endanger our common home.” No technological innovation is “neutral,” he notes. 

Hence the need “to establish bodies charged with examining the ethical issues arising in this field and protecting the rights of those who employ forms of artificial intelligence or are affected by them.” Technological developments that do not lead to an improvement in the quality of all humanity, but on the contrary aggravate inequalities and conflicts, can never count as true progress,” the pope says.


His message goes on to highlight the many challenges posed by AI which are anthropological, educational, social and political. This, he says, “poses a serious problem when artificial intelligence is deployed in campaigns of disinformation that spread false news and lead to a growing distrust of the media.” The misuse of technology can also have other negative consequences, such as discrimination, the rise of a surveillance society and the exacerbation of individualism. 

On the positive side, Pope Francis notes that artificial intelligence can be used to promote “important innovations in agriculture, education and culture, an improved level of life for entire nations and peoples and the growth of human fraternity and social friendship.” The pope therefore urges the global community of nations to work together to adopt a binding international treaty that regulates the development and use of artificial intelligence in its many forms: “The global scale of artificial intelligence makes it clear that international organizations can play a decisive role in reaching multilateral agreements and coordinating their application and enforcement.” 


“It is my prayer at the start of the New Year” the message concludes, “that the rapid development of forms of artificial intelligence will not increase cases of inequality and injustice all too present in today’s world, but will help put an end to wars and conflicts and alleviate many forms of suffering that afflict our human family.” 


Fr. Paul Magnano is parish priest of the Skagit Valley Catholic Churches.

 

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