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Vatican official discusses net neutrality, artificial intelligence

December 20, 2017

In a front-page article in L’Osservatore Romano, the priest who serves as a Vatican representative on an ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) committee discussed net neutrality.

Describing the Federal Communication commission’s repeal of net neutrality as “epochal,” Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani summarized the arguments of proponents and opponents. At the heart of debate, he said, are two questions: “To what extent should the network be treated as an essential good—an indispensable utility—whose access should be guaranteed?” and “To what extent should the network be considered a place of absolute liberty—an open internet free of any data discrimination—whose goal is the widest possible access to the largest variety of information imaginable?”

Msgr. Polvani, an official of the Vatican Secretariat of State and a member of Pope Francis’s 2014 advisory committee on reforming Vatican media, then discussed a new 80-page French government report on big data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence.

“We are all already subjected to continuous profiling based on the relationship between socio-economic-demographic categories that are decided today by specialized programmers and tomorrow by artificial intelligences,” said Msgr. Polvani, who highlighted the report’s recommendation that artificial intelligence be subjected to ethical principles.


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