Olli Dürr Society The Vatican holds the scepter for designing artificial intelligence in its hands

The Vatican holds the scepter for designing artificial intelligence in its hands

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Anyone who waits for the Vatican to address the issue of artificial intelligence has missed out. Long before ChatGPT and Co. were launched, the Roman Catholic Church had long since made a point and completely smashed it with the help of the scepter it held in its hand.

AI hype started

AI grimace

AI will soon dominate

The hype about artificial intelligence (AI) began in November 2022. A “new era,” according to many media voices. The launch of the AI ​​chatbot ChatGPT from the US company OpenAI triggered a wave of enthusiastic users and a flock of interested institutions. Including even churches that simply had an “artificial brain” create a service sermon (Info). Other areas of application for AI in the Evangelical Church in Germany include counseling and pastoral care (Info).

Vatican once again miles ahead

It is obvious that AI technology did not just fall out of the sky. Researchers have been working on the creation of artificial intelligence for many years. It is not surprising that the Roman Catholic Church has long had its “authorized” finger in the game when it comes to artificial intelligence. Around a year and a half before the launch of ChatGPT, the Vatican created a new foundation from the ground up. On April 21, 2021, Pope Francis gave the starting signal for the “renAIssance” foundation after preparatory work by Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Source). This foundation, a so-called non-profit organization, is based in the governorate of the Vatican City State.

The goals of renAIssance

The stated goal of the renAIssance Foundation is to support the ethical and anthropological reflection of new technologies on human life. However, only those technologies that are promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life. To this end, the foundation strives to collaborate with international committees, sovereign states, research centers, universities and companies in the public and private sectors. Companies that offer studies, activities and services in the field of artificial intelligence are particularly targeted.

The foundation’s partners are called upon to spread the concept of “AI ethics” developed by the Vatican. The foundation provided relevant guidelines for this and are summarized in the so-called “Rome Call for AI Ethic”. (Source – pdf).

The human being at the center of “Rome Call”

Artificial Intelligence

AI representatives should pull in Rome’s same direction

The “Rome Call” covers the following core areas:
Ethics, education and rights with the six ethical principles of transparency, inclusiveness, responsibility, impartiality, reliability and security and data protection.
The voluntary commitment of the partners affiliated to the foundation concerns the comprehensibility of the AI ​​system, the consideration of the needs of all people so that everyone can benefit, the developers assuming responsibility, the avoidance of bias, the preservation of human dignity, and the guaranteed security of AI systems and respecting user privacy.

Growing following (obedience)

The concept of “Rome Call” had been developed long before the renAIssance Foundation began public relations work. On February 28, 2020, the first signatories, in addition to Vatican representative Vincenzo Paglia, were Brad Smith of Microsoft, John Kelly III of IBM, Dongyu Qu of FAO and the former Minister of Innovation of Italy, Paola Pisano. The most recent signature, dated April 24, 2024, comes from Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco. This is the company that has been out of the headlines for years because of discovered backdoors in the firmware of the routers it sells.

Update 02.05.24: The Anglican Church has now also joined.

Other organizations that have joined the Rome Call include representatives of the Jewish and Muslim religious communities as well as UNESCO. Collaboration with the UN takes place within the framework of an AI advisory committee. The final report is expected to be published in summer 2024, before the “Summit of the Future”. The main areas of the AI ​​Advisory Board include:
1. The international governance of artificial intelligence
2. Shared understanding of risks and challenges
3. Key opportunities and enablers for using AI to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

The usual (temporary) image

As always, Rome is at the center of the action, and the “makers” line up as usual to receive the instructions from the pontiff’s house. The goals of Rome Call explained in the brochure are, in principle, the technological implementation of Pope Francis’ two encyclicals, “Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti”. It is no surprise that Rome also has a hand in this area. The identical narrative in the field of artificial intelligence is therefore just as unsurprising.

But the shared “joy for the benefit of humanity” doesn’t last long.

And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
Revelation 18:11

Bible verses from King James Version

A little foretaste of “new realities”

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