Technology and ethics

November 17, 2020

Science and the human community must unite and fuse together with the knowledge, civilisations and traditions of all peoples worldwide in order to give humanity a better and different future. The Church has undertaken this path, as Pope Francis clearly indicated to the Pontifical Academy for Life in his Letter Humana Communitas in 2019. Our reflections on Artificial Intelligence and initiatives undertaken in this regard intend to highlight the fact that technology has to be used in an ethical way. In February 2020 the Pontifical Academy for Life promoted the drafting of a “Call”, an ethical charter of commitment aimed at creating procedures – “algorithms” – to help end discrimination and improve the world and relationships between populations and states. The Call was signed by FAO, Microsoft, IBM and the Italian government, at the very highest levels.

Technologies can resolve problems. Food shortages, which condemn millions of people to a life of hunger can be resolved, in a world where for the first time it is possible to feed more than nine billion persons. Despite this, more than half a billion people are still suffering from starvation. Technology linked to monitoring and correctly distributing resources, food and water, is in itself an immense resource for making this planet more habitable. The use of procedures to confront and overcome problems not only for the environment, but also for health and education, if and when they are connected to “green” procedures, including environmental sustainability, recycling and the reuse of materials, are capable of helping us produce better, in a more widespread way (in order to benefit more people) and without pollution.

Pope Francis has written this in the Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, and indicates this way forward in the encyclical Laudato si. We must care for our planet and we must care for the human family who live here. Therefore relations among populations and among persons, as well as relationships between peoples, persons and the environment, are huge challenges which we cannot but tackle.

Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia
President of the Pontifical Academy for Life

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