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A depiction of humanity caught within the cogs and gears or technology (OSV News/Reimund Bertrams, Pixabay)

Catholic universities must not recoil from the daunting risks of artificial intelligence but become proactively involved in its ethical development, the head of the Dicastery for Culture and Education said yesterday. Source: OSV News.

Catholic universities are obligated “to a delicate exercise of responsibility” in the “new historical era” represented by AI, said Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, prefect of the dicastery. “Universities and, even more so, universities which share the Church’s mission, stand at a crossroads of cultural, scientific and social possibilities.”

Quoting Pope Francis, he said, “mere training in the correct use of new technologies will not prove sufficient” and that “it is not enough to simply to trust in the moral sense of researchers and developers of devices and algorithms,” signalling the need to develop “algor-ethics”.

The cardinal spoke yesterday at the opening of a conference in Milan titled, “The Future of Catholic Universities in the AI Age” organised by the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities, an international network of leading Catholic universities dedicated to research.

“Catholic universities must indeed dialogue with the new, work unsparingly on current questions and issues, and establish themselves as great laboratories of the future,” he said, since they are “expected not only to actively guard the noble memory of past days, but also to be the probes, and the cradles, of tomorrow”.

With an eye on the risks posed by widespread and unregulated artificial intelligence use, Cardinal Tolentino’s dicastery has worked to bring tech-industry leaders to the Vatican to discuss the ethical development of AI. In January, Pope Francis met with AI pioneers from companies such as Microsoft and IBM and urged them to ensure AI use does not propagate discriminatory practices.

Cardinal Tolentino recalled the Pope’s conviction that “only truly inclusive forms of dialogue can enable us to discern wisely how to put artificial intelligence and digital technologies at the service of the human family”.


Catholic universities must engage with AI’s development, cardinal says (By Justin McLellan, OSV News)


Global gathering maps future for universities in AI age (ACU)