VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope Francis wants the next World Day of Peace to focus on the impact, opportunities and dangers of artificial intelligence as the technology develops and influences a growing number of fields, from information to warfare.
“Pope Francis calls for an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects,” read a statement from the Vatican on Tuesday (Aug. 8).
“He emphasizes the need to be vigilant and to work so that a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded: injustice and inequalities fuel conflicts and antagonisms,” the statement continued.
Created in 1967 by Pope Paul VI, the World Day of Peace is an annual Catholic celebration centered on the theme of peace and observed on Jan. 1, the same day as the Catholic Solemnity of Mary. Popes usually deliver a speech on this occasion, which centers on the themes of peace and reconciliation.
The Vatican announced that next year’s theme will be “Artificial Intelligence and Peace,” at a time when AI is increasingly mainstream and has already begun to revolutionize warfare. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has elevated concerns over the possible use of autonomous weapons systems, commonly referred to as killer robots, as well as cyberwarfare utilizing AI technology.
The Vatican statement addressed the “urgent need to orient the concept and use of artificial intelligence in a responsible way” that focuses on protecting people and the environment. It also called for greater study and legislation of AI, as legal frameworks worldwide lag behind technological advancements in this field.
“The protection of the dignity of the person, and concern for a fraternity effectively open to the entire human family, are indispensable conditions for technological development to help contribute to the promotion of justice and peace in the world,” the statement read.
The Pontifical Academy for Life, a Vatican think tank focused on addressing the entire scope of human life and society, has issued numerous reflections and organized conferences on the topic of AI. On Jan. 10, representatives from the Catholic, Jewish and Islamic faith gathered in Rome to sign a petition asking for the implementation of ethical guidelines for artificial intelligence, in an event promoted by the Pontifical Academy.
This article originally appeared here.