Pope Francis Urges G7 Leaders to Protect Humanity From Artificial Intelligence

Pope Francis warned G7 leaders against letting AI overpower humanity, emphasizing the importance of preserving human life and dignity.

At the weekend’s Group of Seven summit, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to speak and cautioned world leaders against allowing artificial intelligence to ever triumph over humanity.

The 87-year-old pope was greeted with warm embraces by a wide range of international leaders as he navigated their enormous circular table, pushed by a wheelchair due to age and disability, according to Reuters.

The pope praised AI as a “epochal transformation” for humanity, but he also emphasized the importance of closely monitoring this rapidly advancing technology in order to protect human life and dignity.

He declared, “No machine should ever choose to take a human being’s life,” and added that humans shouldn’t allow extremely strong algorithms determine their fate.

“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, we would condemn humanity to a future without hope,” he warned.
The leaders of the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan are gathered as the G7. The summit’s host, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, also extended invitations to ten other countries to participate in the discussions, including the presidents of Kenya and Turkey as well as the prime minister of India.

Before making his statement, Francis entered the conference room and was greeted cordially by President Javier Milei of Argentina, King Abdullah of Jordan, Justin Trudeau of Canada, and US President Joe Biden. They also had a lengthy, private talk in whispers.

Pope Francis said that although there is some uncertainty about AI, it has the potential to thrill people and increase global access to knowledge.

“However, it may also result in increased inequality between developed and developing countries, or between privileged and marginalized social groups,” he added.

He continued, “It is everyone’s responsibility to use (AI) wisely, but it is the responsibility of politics to establish the framework that will enable and benefit from such wise use.”

“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,” he added.

Earlier this year, Italy approved a bill aimed at laying ground rules for the use of AI, setting sanctions for AI-related crimes, and Meloni has repeatedly warned of the risks AI poses to the jobs market.

In a draft of their closing statement, the G7  said they would draw up a plan to anticipate future skills and education needs to take advantage of the pending AI revolution.

The pope highlighted AI’s potential to take on labour-intensive tasks and engender an “exponential advancement of scientific research”, but he said the machines could also be duped into relaying false information.

“It does not develop new analyses or concepts, but repeats those that it finds,” he said, meaning it ran the risk of legitimising fake news and strengthening already dominant cultures.

Emmanuel Addeh