AI at the G7 with the Pope

Eva Ulian

Eva Ulian | June 18, 2024

AI at the G7 with the Pope

Di Orubino di Wikipedia in italiano - Trasferito da it.wikipedia su Commons da ZioNicco utilizzando CommonsHelper., Pubblico dominio

By Trougnouf (Benoit Brummer) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Originating from an informal meeting of finance ministers in 1973, in Washington DC, two years later the G6 established at its first meeting in Château de Rambouillet the following principles: a united commitment to promoting free trade, multilateralism, cooperation with the developing world, and rapprochement with the Eastern Bloc.

In 2024 the group, now G7, held their 50th reunion  in the luxury resort of Borgo Egnazia in Fasano, Puglia, Italy. For the first time, among the guest speakers, a Pope was invited, our present Pope Francis.

Pope Francis chose to speak on Artificial Intelligence, and he did so by referring to both pros and cons – he didn’t just demonize it completely, as one would expect. However, he did not make any concessions – AI is a potential danger and states clearly: “Every tool since the dawn of time could be used negatively or positively.” He continues:By Floliva - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

“We would condemn humanity to a future without hope if we took away people’s ability to make decisions about themselves and their lives, by dooming them to depend on the choices of machines.”

But the Pope also refers to the benefits of the positive use of AI namely the  “democratization of access to knowledge”, the “exponential advancement of scientific research”, and a reduction in “demanding and arduous work”. Not of course forgetting that it can also produce “greater injustice between advanced and developing nations or between dominant and oppressed social classes.”

When it comes to education, I totally agree with him. He states:

It is easy to forget, that “strictly speaking, so-called generative artificial intelligence is not really ‘generative’” – it does not “develop new analyses or concepts” but rather “repeats those that it finds, giving them an appealing form.”

This, the Pope said, risks “undermining the educational process itself”.

“Education, should offer the chance for “authentic reflection”, but instead “runs the risk of being reduced to a repetition of notions, which will increasingly be evaluated as unobjectionable, simply because of their constant repetition.”

I also agree totally with what he says on politics too, namely:

“If we struggle to define a single set of global values, we can at least find shared principles with which to address and resolve dilemmas or conflicts regarding how to live.”

“Faced with this challenge, political action is urgently needed.”

“It is up to everyone to make good use of (AI) but the onus is on politics to create the conditions for such good use to be possible and fruitful,”

“Can the world function without politics?” he asked.

“Can it find an effective way towards universal fraternity and social peace without a good politics? Our response to these last questions is: No. We need politics!”

“Only a healthy politics, involving the most diverse sectors and skills, is capable of dealing with the challenges and promises of artificial intelligence.”

The goal, Pope Francis concluded, is not “stifling human creativity and its ideals of progress” but rather “directing that energy along new channels.”

I am in favour in all what the Pope said but there is one point I’d like to pick up on and that is  when referring to Decision-making: humans v machines he said that AI is capable of making “algorithmic choices” – that is, “technical” choices “among several possibilities based either on well-defined criteria or on statistical inferences”. He stressed that the algorithms used by artificial intelligence to arrive at choices are “neither objective nor neutral.”

Human beings, however, “not only choose, but in their hearts are capable of deciding.”

And this is where the Pope and I part company.

I do so because I question what is in men’s heart. And what is found there, whether good or evil, with certainly will influence their power of decision.

At this point let us look into human beings hearts. There, we can find: kindness, justice, generosity, in fact overwhelming goodness. This, machines are not capable of.

However, in human beings hearts, we can also find: jealousy, boastfulness, hatred, ferocious ambition, in fact overwhelming evilness; which again will certainly influence their power of decision. And again, this machines are not capable of.Di Orubino - Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0

If I had to place the outcome of my fate into automation or into the hands of a dictator like Hitler, I have no qualms in choosing the former.

But then one may well say, Hitler is dead and gone, there aren’t any Hitlers anymore? Really? The world is full of them, just waiting for their chance to rise and press that button which will destroy the world.

No, let’s not place too readily our trust in the decision from a human being’s heart without first purifying that heart and eradicate the evilness it contains. Like the Pope said, “It’s a question of ethics…“ However, not for machines but mankind.



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