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Pope Francis meets with aid and charity representatives

Pope Francis gestures on the day he meets with aid and charity representatives at “Centro Paroquial de Serafina” during his apostolic journey to Portugal on the occasion of the XXXVII World Youth Day, in Lisbon, Portugal, August 4, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/File Photo

VATICAN CITY, Aug 8 (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Tuesday called for a global reflection on the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), noting the new technology’s “disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects.”

Francis, who is 86 and said in the past he does not know how to use a computer, issued the warning in a message for the next World Day of Peace of the Catholic Church, falling on New Year’s Day.

The Vatican released the message well in advance, as it is customary.

The pope “recalls the need to be vigilant and to work so that a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded,” it reads.

“The urgent need to orient the concept and use of artificial intelligence in a responsible way, so that it may be at the service of humanity and the protection of our common home, requires that ethical reflection be extended to the sphere of education and law,” it adds.

Back in 2015, Francis acknowledged being “a disaster” with technology, but he hasalso called the internet, social networks and text messages “a gift of God”, provided that they are used wisely.

In 2020, the Vatican joined forces with tech giants Microsoft (MSFT.O) and IBM (IBM.N) to promote the ethical development of AI and call for regulation of intrusive technologies such as facial recognition.

Reporting by Federico Maccioni, editing by Alvise Armellini

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