Pope Francis raises the alarm about AI

Although Pope Francis is well-known to the world of artificial intelligence (a deepfake image of him wearing a white puffer jacket went viral last year), his worries about the technology have grown to prominence during the Group of Seven summit and go far beyond a negative publicity stunt.

Friday, during their yearly summit in southern Italy, Francis will give the first-ever speech to the G7 leaders. After OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot ignited a surge in generative artificial intelligence, he plans to take advantage of the moment to join the clamor of nations and international organizations calling for more regulations on AI.

This year, the Argentine pope advocated for an international convention to guarantee that artificial intelligence be researched and applied morally during his yearly message of peace. It is too dangerous, he contends, for technology to advance uncontrolled if it lacks the human virtues of mercy, forgiveness, morality, and compassion.

Knowing that Francis’s star power and moral authority could help him combine his concerns for social justice and peace with a widely held fear of artificial intelligence, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni invited Francis and made his participation known.

John Kirton, a political scientist at the University of Toronto and the director of the G7 Research Group think tank, described the pope as, well, a very particular type of celebrity.

Kirton noted that the last summit with star power of this caliber took place in 2005 at Gleneagles, Scotland, where participants resolved to waive the $40 billion in debt that eighteen of the world’s poorest nations owed the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Prior to that meeting, nearly a million people attended the Live8 event in London, which was organized in solidarity against famine and poverty in Africa and featured Sting, The Who, and a reformed Pink Floyd. According to Kirton, Gleneagles truly hit a home run and is regarded by some as one of the most successful summits.

While the G7 leaders in Puglia, Italy, are not under the same kind of public pressure, Francis can use his moral authority to reiterate calls for AI safety measures and draw attention to the risks AI poses to society and peace.

The ability of generative AI technology to generate reactions that like those of a human has astounded the world, but it has also raised concerns about the safety of AI and prompted a disorganized global attempt to control it.

Because it has the ability to produce new bioweapons and fuel misinformation, some are concerned about the potentially catastrophic yet distant hazards to civilization. Others worry about how it will affect daily life, whether it be through AI systems that displace workers or algorithmic prejudice that leads to discrimination.

Francis repeated those worries and brought up additional ones in his message of peace. He stated that protecting fundamental human rights, fostering peace, and preventing misinformation, prejudice, and distortion must be AI’s top priorities.

Given that the G7 countries have led the discussion on AI monitoring, Francis will essentially be speaking to the choir when it comes to regulations.

Japan initiated the Hiroshima AI initiative last year to create global guidelines and a code of conduct for AI developers. Japan is the country that currently holds the rotating presidency of the G7. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last month revealed a framework for international regulation of generative AI, or artificial intelligence systems that can produce new text, images, videos, and audio swiftly in response to prompts and directions. This is an additional step toward those efforts.

With its comprehensive AI Act, which is slated to go into force over the next two years and may serve as a global model, the European Union was among the first to take action. With limitations based on the degree of risk they present, the legislation targets any AI good or service provided in the 27 member countries of the union.

President Joe Biden of the United States issued an executive order highlighting the need for legislation to reinforce AI protections, and some states, including Colorado and California, have attempted, albeit with varying degrees of success, to pass their own AI laws.

The question of whether the dominating positions of Microsoft, Amazon, and OpenAI in the AI industry hinder competition has been the focus of antitrust enforcers on both sides of the Atlantic.

With a meeting last autumn, Britain initiated a worldwide conversation on taming AI’s most dire threats. Companies promised to develop the technology securely at a follow-up conference in Seoul. Another round of the tournament will be place in France early in 2019. Additionally, the UN has voiced its opinion with its first resolution on AI.

Francis has a full day of bilateral encounters scheduled around his AI lecture. In addition to invited leaders from Algeria, Brazil, India, Kenya, and Turkey, he will see Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine. Additionally, he will have meetings with Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, Joe Biden, and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France.

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