Pope Francis, in his message for the 58th World Day of Social Communications, has stated that artificial intelligence (AI) must be regulated, acknowledging that, as in every human context, “regulation is, of itself, not sufficient.”
In his 2024 World Day of Social Communications, made available by the Vatican on Wednesday, January 24, the Pope noted that the simulation technology behind AI algorithms can be useful in certain fields.
The 58th World Day of Social Communications is focused on the theme: Artificial Intelligence and the Wisdom of the Heart: Towards Fully Human Communication.
Celebrated on May 12, usually the Sunday before Pentecost, to celebrate the achievements of the communications media and focus on how they can best be used to promote gospel values. This year’s theme is closely linked to the Pope’s message for the World Day of Peace, which was devoted to developing systems of artificial intelligence (AI).
AI, according to the Pope, is radically affecting the world of information and communication and, through it, certain foundations of life in society. He disclosed that the changes brought about by AI affect everyone.
According to him, the use of AI becomes perverse when it distorts human relationships with others and with reality. However, he added that AI could lead to a disturbing scenario if it ends up in the wrong hands.
The Pope further urged humanity to cultivate the wisdom of the heart in the age of artificial intelligence. “How can we remain fully human and guide this cultural transformation to serve a good purpose?”
He noted that at this time in history, which risks becoming rich in technology and poor in humanity, human reflections must begin with the human heart. According to him, the heart is the inward place of man’s encounter with God.
The Holy Father stressed that such wisdom cannot be sought from machines. He stated further that although the term artificial intelligence has replaced the term machine learning, the use of the word ‘intelligence’ can prove misleading.
“Wisdom of the heart, then, is the virtue that enables us to integrate the whole and its parts, our decisions and their consequences, our nobility and vulnerability, our past and our future, our individuality, and our membership within a larger community.”
The Pope explained that it is not enough to be able to store data as machines do, but that the data must be made sense of, and that human beings alone are capable of such. “Depending on the inclination of the heart, everything within our reach becomes either an opportunity or a threat.”
Pope Francis further urged the world to grow together in humanity. He recalled that humans are challenged to make a qualitative leap to become a complex, multiethnic, pluralistic, multireligious, and multicultural society.
He warned that information cannot be separated from living relationships, explaining that relationships involve the body and an immersion into the real world, but that they also involve human experiences, compassion, and sharing.
“It is up to us to decide whether we will become fodder for algorithms or will nourish our hearts with that freedom without which we cannot grow in wisdom,” he stated, disclosing that together the world can increase its capacity for discernment and vigilance for seeing things in the light of their fulfilment.
Pope Francis then prays that humanity may never lose its bearings and that the wisdom that was present before all modern technology may return to us. He stated further that wisdom can help put systems of artificial intelligence at the service of fully human communication.