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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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Pope Francis to address Biden, other G7 leaders on artificial intelligence

June 12, 2024

Pope Francis will speak about artificial intelligence when he becomes the first pope to address a G7 summit on June 14.

The G7 summit, which begins on June 13, brings together the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The summit takes place this year at Borgo Egnazia, a luxury resort in Fasano, a small city in the southeastern Italian region of Apulia.

In a front-page article in L’Osservatore Romano, Robert Cetera suggested that the Pope will address the military uses of AI.

In the article—entitled “L’IA che uccide: Intelligenza artificiale e conflitti armati” [The AI that kills: Artificial intelligence and armed conflicts]—the journalist, who has worked for the Vatican newspaper since 2019, wrote that “the Pontiff evidently does not miss the danger of some applications of artificial intelligence, which often remain in the background.”

Citing reports in The Guardian and +972 Magazine, Cetera discussed the Israeli military’s use of AI in Gaza. Cetera wrote that the military’s facial recognition program “was able to calculate in advance the estimate of the number of civilians who would be hit in each single operation” and that early in the conflict, the “authorized limit of casualties was in the order of 15 to 20 civilian victims for each terrorist hit”—but that when it came to Hamas leaders, the ratio “could even reach 100.”

The journalist, citing a report in Politico Europe, also discussed the use of AI by Ukrainian and Russian military forces.

Cetera concluded by calling on the G7 summit leaders to discuss a convention, or treaty, limiting the military uses of AI. He did not state whether he was merely offering his own opinion, reflecting the views of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, or perhaps even hinting at what the Pontiff might say on June 14:

Eastern Ukraine today is actually a laboratory for experimenting with how wars will be fought in the near future.

It would be important for the next G7 to start discussing it, and to think about an international convention which—as happened in the past for nuclear arsenals—places limits on the application of Artificial Intelligence in the military field. Even if it seems difficult today to be able to regulate a phenomenon that is still in an initial development phase, while the race is underway to see who can be the first to produce the most lethal weapons.

 


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