The Catholic Pope has released a set of ethical principles outlined in a document titled “Rome Call For AI Ethics,” and it found early support from Microsoft and IBM.
The guidelines are designed to address ethical issues around AI technologies such as facial recognition, bias and job losses and promotes a regulatory approach around what is being called an “algor-ethical” vision of design, with transparency, inclusion, responsibility, impartiality, reliability, security and privacy.
“AI systems must be conceived, designed and implemented to serve and protect human beings and the environment in which they live,” the document reads. “It must include every human being, discriminating against no one; it must have the good of humankind and the good of every human being at its heart; finally, it must be mindful of the complex reality of our ecosystem and be characterized by the way in which it cares for and protects the planet….”
Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer and President Brad Smith and IBM executive vice president John Kelly III had previously met with the Catholic Pontiff a year ago in February 2019 and discussed how AI can be used ethically and what can be done to help bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations.
The talks at the Pope’s residence lasted 30 minutes and concluded with an announcement that its Academy for Life would jointly sponsor a prize with Microsoft for the best doctoral dissertation in 2019 on the theme of “artificial intelligence at the service of human life”.
Smith separately told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that “strong ethical and new, evolved laws” were needed so that technological advances such as artificial intelligence do not fall into the wrong hands.
“The Vatican is not an expert on the technology but on values,” Francesca Rossi, IBM’s global AI ethics leader, said in a statement. “The collaboration is to make the Vatican and the whole society understand how to use this technology with these values.”
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is a strong advocate for the ethical use of AI, saying it should be used alongside humans as tools, rather than to replace them.