Message for the World Day of Peace – 1 January 2024

by | Dec 27, 2023 | Formation

Artificial Intelligence and Peace: in his Message for the 57th World Day of Peace, to be celebrated on 1 January 2024, Pope Francis made an urgent appeal to the whole world for an ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), focusing in eight chapters on the technical, anthropological, educational, social and political challenges involved.

The remarkable advances in new information technologies, particularly in the digital sphere, thus offer exciting opportunities and grave risks, with serious implications for the pursuit of justice and harmony among peoples. Any number of urgent questions need to be asked. What will be the consequences, in the medium and long term, of these new digital technologies? And what impact will they have on individual lives and on societies, on international stability and peace?

The Message particularly emphasises the need for a responsible and ethical approach in the design and use of algorithms and digital technologies, also linked to the potential threats from information manipulation and loss of control over privacy. Responsible training and appropriate regulation are therefore needed.

Pope Francis then draws attention to the concept of a “sense of limit” in the technological age, stressing that technology cannot replace human understanding and ethical responsibility. Urgent is the need to implement an ethical and humane approach in the use of algorithms to make crucial decisions, such as those related to employment and law.

[…] the vast amount of data analysed by artificial intelligences is not in itself a guarantee of impartiality. When algorithms extrapolate information, they always run the risk of distorting it, replicating the injustices and prejudices of the environments in which it originated. The faster and more complex they become, the more difficult it is to understand why they have produced a given result.

The Pontiff calls on educational institutions to promote critical thinking in the use of AI, including in educational settings, providing individuals with the tools to understand and discern digital information. Finally, Pope Francis calls for global cooperation to regulate AI at the international level: the goal is to ensure responsible use of AI, stimulating positive innovations and protecting fundamental human rights.

It is my prayer at the start of the New Year that the rapid development of forms of artificial intelligence will not increase cases of inequality and injustice all too present in today’s world, but will help put an end to wars and conflicts, and alleviate many forms of suffering that afflict our human family. May Christian believers, followers of various religions and men and women of good will work together in harmony to embrace the opportunities and confront the challenges posed by the digital revolution and thus hand on to future generations a world of greater solidarity, justice and peace.

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