Pope: Machines are useful but they do not think

Francis receives the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, meeting in plenary to discuss “Roboethics. People, machines and health “. Technology is useful if at the service of man, machines are used for the development of society and the planet “.

Vatican City – Artificial devices that simulate human capabilities “are inextricably devoid of human quality. It must be taken into account to guide the regulation of their use, and the research itself, towards a constructive and equitable interaction between human beings and the latest versions of machines. In fact, they spread in our world and radically transform the scenario of our existence. If we can also put these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of the new discoveries will radiate their benefits on each person and on the whole of humanity,” said Pope Francis this morning.

He was receiving the participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life which is celebrated this year on the 25th anniversary of his birth. The pontiff opened his speech by thanking the presidents and the members of the Academy who – in these first 25 years – have carried out a “competent service” with “generous commitment” for the protection and promotion of human life. Immediately after, Francesco addressed the plenary topic: “Roboethics. People, machines and health”.

The Pope noted: “We live in a world full of contrasts, and we see a dramatic paradox: just when humanity possesses the scientific and technical capacities to achieve a fairly widespread well-being, according to God’s mandate, we observe instead an exacerbation of conflicts. and a growth in inequality. The enlightenment myth of progress is dwindling and the accumulation of the potential that science and technology have provided us do not always give the desired results. In fact, on the one hand, technological development has allowed us to solve problems that were insurmountable until a few years ago, and we are grateful to the researchers who have achieved these results; on the other hand, difficulties and threats are sometimes more insidious than the previous ones “.

The “being able to do”, he adds, “risks obscuring the person doing it. The technocratic system based on the criterion of efficiency does not respond to the most profound questions that man poses; and if on the one hand it is not possible to do without its resources, on the other it imposes its logic on those who use them. Yet the technique is characteristic of the human being. It should not be understood as a force that is alien and hostile to it, but as a product of its ingenuity through which it provides for the needs of living for oneself and for others. It is therefore a specifically human way of inhabiting the world “.

But this brings with it a serious problem: “Instead of delivering the tools that improve their care to human life, there is the risk of giving life to the logic of the devices that decide its value. This overturning is destined to produce nefarious outcomes: the machine is not limited to driving alone, but ends up guiding man. Human reason is thus reduced to an alienated rationality of effects, which cannot be considered worthy of man “.

After denouncing the serious damage to the environment created by a mad rush to innovation, Francis recalled the message he sent to the Davos Forum in January 2018: “Artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological innovations must be used to serve humanity and to protect our common home instead of the exact opposite, as unfortunately they provide some estimates. The inherent dignity of every human being must be firmly placed at the center of our reflection and action “.

The Pope noted that there is a very real risk “that man is being technologized, rather than technology humanized: so-called ‘intelligent machines’ are hastily attributed skills that are properly human. We need to understand better what the intelligence, the conscience, the emotionality, the affective intentionality and the autonomy of moral action mean in this context. In fact, artificial devices that simulate human capabilities are devoid of human quality. It must be taken into account to guide the regulation of their use, and the research itself, towards a constructive and equitable interaction between human beings and the latest versions of machines. In fact, they spread in our world and radically transform the scenario of our existence. If we can also put these references in practice, the extraordinary potential of the new discoveries will radiate their benefits on each person and on the whole of humanity “. – AsiaNews

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