Vatican announces that artificial intelligence will be theme of next World Day of Peace

AI artificial intelligence Credit: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis’ annual peace message for 2024 will focus on artificial intelligence (AI).

A statement from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on Aug. 8 described an “urgent need” to guide the development and use of artificial intelligence in a responsible way, requiring that “ethical reflection be extended to the sphere of education and law.”

“Pope Francis calls for an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects,” it said.

The Vatican office noted that artificial intelligence technologies are having “a rapidly increasing impact on human activity, personal and social life, politics and the economy” and called for vigilance to ensure that technological development contributes to “the promotion of justice and peace in the world.”

Years before the widely-popular release of the GPT-4 chatbot system, developed by the San Francisco start-up OpenAI, the Vatican was already heavily involved in the conversation of artificial intelligence ethics, hosting high-level discussions with scientists and tech executives on the ethics of artificial intelligence in 2016 and 2020.

Pope Francis has repeatedly called for making “the intrinsic dignity of every man and every woman the key criterion in evaluating emerging technologies.”

Last month, the Vatican’s education and culture office published an introduction to a 140-page ethics handbook for the tech industry published by the Institute for Technology, Ethics, and Culture (ITEC) at California’s Santa Clara University.

The World Day of Peace — instituted by St. Paul VI in 1968 — is celebrated each year on Jan. 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The pope provides a message for the occasion, which is sent by the Vatican to foreign governments around the world.

In last year’s message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis asked: “What did we learn from the pandemic?”

“Artificial Intelligence and Peace,” will be the official theme of the 2024 World Day of Peace. The pope’s message is expected to be released publicly in early December.

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