Francis is expected to join world leaders at the meeting in southern Italy to discuss the ethical implications of artificial intelligence.

As leaders of the Group of 7 nations meet this week in southern Italy, they will be joined by representatives from countries at the center of international conflicts, developing nations like Brazil and India and, for the first time, the Holy See .

Pope Francis, the Vatican announced, will participate in a discussion on Friday about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence in a session open to envoys from countries that are not members of the G7. The Vatican said Pope Francis will also have bilateral talks with some of the visiting leaders, including President Biden and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy, who invited him, said the pope’s presence “will contribute decisively to defining a regulatory, ethical and cultural framework” for artificial intelligence, adding that his participation “brings prestige to our nation and to the entire Group of 7.”

Francis’ participation at the summit comes as, at age 87, the pope was reported this week to have once again used an offensive term to refer to homosexuality, the same derogatory term he was accused of using last month. Last month’s reports sparked a backlash among LGBTQ people, toward whom the pope has generally taken a more welcoming approach.

The pope’s presence at the G7 breaks with a long tradition in the Roman Catholic Church of declining such invitations based on the idea that a pontiff does not need state leaders or anyone else to offer him a platform to speak, said Alberto Melloni, a Italian church historian.

“The pope already has the floor,” said Melloni.

But in this case, Pope Francis, who has a history of breaking with conventional behavior, could see the summit as a high-profile opportunity to send another strong message about ending conflicts such as the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, Melloni said. .

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, told Avvenire, an Italian Catholic daily, that Francis was ready to use “all means and spaces” available to defend peace.

The pope’s invitation to the summit, he added, was also a recognition of the profound ethical implications of the technology that he will officially be there to discuss.

The pope has already been involved in the currents of artificial intelligence. Manipulated photographs of Francisco wearing a giant white quilted coat, riding a motorcycle and drinking a beer at a music festival caused widespread excitement on social media. But Francis and the Vatican have also highlighted more serious implications of artificial intelligence, including in education, communication, professional life and corporate and government decisions.

In 2020, the Pontifical Academy for Life, a research institute whose members are selected by the pope, issued a document, the “Rome Call for AI Ethics,” which set out principles for the development and use of the technology. Major players in the field of AI, including leaders from Microsoft, IBM and Cisco, signed the document.

Francis himself addressed the issue in a message on New Year’s Day, calling for a global treaty to ensure that AI systems preserve space for human mercy, compassion and forgiveness, rather than being plunged into a reality operated by unfathomable algorithms. He said it is vital to understand what effect these technologies will have on individual lives and societies, international stability and peace.

The Rev. Paolo Benanti, who serves as an AI ethicist for both the Vatican and the Italian government, said the pope’s participation in the G7 meeting underscores his willingness to engage with key global issues.

“The pope shows that he has these antennas,” Father Benanti told reporters last week, citing Francis’ other big concerns such as migration and climate change, adding, “He understands where the world is going.”

In the coastal town of Savelletri, where the G7 summit is taking place in a luxury tourist resort, residents had high hopes for the pope’s visit. While strict security protocols mean residents likely won’t see Francis in person, many were crossing their fingers for some reward, however small.

“At least a blessing,” said 68-year-old resident Laura Mancini. “He must give it to us.”

Via The New York Times.


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