The Vatican presented a plan for the development of ethical AI.
The Vatican presented a study on how to bring more ethics to the development of artificial intelligence for humanity.
Pope Francis launched on last on 28 February 2020 the “Rome Call for AI Ethics” and IBM and Microsoft are among the first signatories.
The document proposed by the Vatican and signed by IBM and Microsoft for the ethical development of artificial intelligence is called “Rome Call for AI Ethics.”
The Pontifical Academy for Life, an institution that deals with the ethical and moral implications raised by the latest frontiers of science, such as stem cell research and genetic editing, promoted the document, recognizing that Artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing about considerable changes in the lives of humans and will continue to do so.
AI systems must be conceptualized and realized to assist and preserve human beings and the environment in which they live.
This initial vision must transmute into an engagement to create social and personal conditions that allow both groups and individual members to endeavor to represent themselves where possible thoroughly.
Given the innovative and complex nature of the issues posed by the digital transformation, it is essential that all stakeholders work together and that all the needs emerging from AI are represented.
Artificial intelligence is an incredibly promising technology that can help us make the world smarter, healthier, and more prosperous. Provided that, from the outset, it is developed according to human interests and values, and The Call for AI Ethics in Rome reminds us that we must think carefully about the needs of those who will benefit from AI and invest significantly in the necessary skills.
Towards an “algorithmic ethics.”
The Rome Call for AI Ethics takes into consideration three aspects, ethics, education, and rights, around which the Academy’s reflections revolve for the development of AI that is respectful of all human beings. And it ends with the hope of creating an “algorithm-ethics,” or an approach of “ethics by design” that should shape the development of each algorithm.
The algorithm-ethics is defined through six fundamental principles that should inspire the development of artificial intelligence: transparency, inclusion, responsibility, impartiality, reliability, security, and privacy:
- Transparency: in principle, AI systems must be explainable;
- Inclusion: the needs of all human beings must be taken into consideration so that everyone can benefit and all individuals can be offered the best possible conditions to express themselves and develop;
- Responsibility: those who design and deploy the use of AI must proceed with accountability and transparency;
- Impartiality: do not create or act according to bias, thus safeguarding fairness and human dignity;
- Reliability: AI systems must be able to work reliably;
- Security and privacy: AI systems must work securely and respect the privacy of
The intent of the Call is to create a movement that expands and involves other subjects: public institutions, NGOs, industries, and groups to produce a direction in the development and use of technologies derived from AI.
The prospect of a good AI
The initiatives promoted by the Vatican and culminated in the Call for AI are part of a more comprehensive scenario of commitment to the ethical development of artificial intelligence.
The European Union recently published a white paper on AI and launched a public consultation to involve citizens and all stakeholders in the development of new technologies. In February, the Pentagon also announced new guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence.
Then there are the joint efforts of large industrial groups such as the Partnership on AI, an association to which practically all the big names of IT have joined, from Apple to Amazon, Facebook, and Google, in addition to IBM and Microsoft that conducts research, organizes discussions, shares insights, provides thought leadership, consults with relevant third parties, responds to questions from the public and media, and creates educational material that advances the understanding of AI technologies including machine perception, learning, and automated reasoning.
For an ethical AI development
Now more than ever, we must guarantee an outlook in which AI is developed with a focus not on technology, but rather for the good of humanity and of the environment, of our ordinary and shared home and of its human inhabitants, who are inextricably connected.
A vision in which human beings and nature are at the heart of how digital innovation is developed, supported rather than gradually replaced by technologies that behave like rational actors but are in no way human.
It is time to begin preparing for a more technological future in which machines will have a more critical role in the lives of human beings, but also a future in which it is clear that technological progress affirms the brilliance of the human race and remains dependent on its ethical integrity.
The Vatican focus in the Call for AI is, unsurprisingly, on the human issue: systems, algorithms, etc. they must always be placed in favor of equality between people and promote values aligned with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church: dignity of the individual, justice, subsidiarity (principle in which the State only acts when the lower spheres are unable to help the citizen) and solidarity. Everything else is secondary.
There is no reason to ban technology, but development and implementation must follow strict rules and regulations to protect people and work for the people, not against them or for the benefit of the few.
Overall, this initiative shows that the Vatican is not alienated from new technologies, and seeks to align its values with the evolution of society, something it knows how to do very well, with its more than 2,000 years of history.