If you need more proof that absolutely no one and nothing is safe from discussing AI these days, the Pope has now weighed in on his thoughts as far as navigating this brave new world.
He calls it a guidebook on AI ethics.
To come up with this guide, he partnered with Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics to form the Institute for Technology, Ethics, and Culture (ITEC).
According to its website, this body is designed to convene “leaders from business, civil society, academia, government, and all faith and belief traditions, to promote deeper thought on technology’s impact on humanity.”
Together, they released a handbook called “Ethics in the Age of Disruptive Technologies: An Operational Roadmap” that they say is meant to help tech companies navigate the murky waters of AI ethics.
Father Brendan McGuire, an ITEC advisor, spoke with Gizmodo about the project.
“The Pope has always had a large view of the world and of humanity, and he believes that technology is a good thing. But as we develop it, it comes time to ask the deeper questions.”
They all believe there is definitely room in the world for their handbook, and others like it.
“Technology executives from all over Silicon Valley have been coming to me for years and saying, ‘You need to help us, there’s a lot of stuff on the horizon and we aren’t ready. The idea was to use the Vatican’s convening power to bring executives from the entire world together.”
The handbook focuses on more than AI and machine learning, branching out to cover other topics like encryption, tracking, and facial recognition, but the focus remains largely on the desire many in the industry have to maintain ethical standards.
“This is already clear in the number of initiatives that seek to ensure that technology will be at the ‘service of humanity,’ ‘for good,’ ‘human centered,’ ‘ethical by design,’ and ‘open.’ This desire to maintain ethical standards reflects both an intrinsic commitment to doing good and a realistic aversion to the risk of reputational damage and long-term commercial harm.”
That said, are people and businesses actually following through on all of these buzzworthy topics?
The ITEC is not pretending that the handbook will replace the need for government regulation, but we’re largely still waiting on lawmakers to weigh in. So, the guide could be helpful in the meantime.
“Many guardrails are absolutely necessary, and countries and governments will implement them in time. But this book plays a significant role in fast tracking the approach to design and consumer implementation.”
They’re looking ahead and trying to meet needs that are likely coming – and fast.
Which are two things governments are notoriously bad at doing, so perhaps this unlikely partnership will be exactly what we all need.