Pope will attend G7 meeting to discuss AI

Pope Francis alongside Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome
Pope Francis alongside Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome Copyright Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Copyright Alessandra Tarantino/AP
By Daniel Harper
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It is the first time a pontiff will take part in the inner-workings of the G7 Summit.

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Pope Francis will participate in the G7 for the first time, the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced in a video message. Led by Italy, the summit will take place from June 13-15 in Borgo Egnazia, Puglia. The pontiff's participation was then confirmed by the Holy See.

Meloni, who currently heads the G7, is hosting the June 13-15 summit of leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United States.

In a video statement, Meloni said Francis would be the first pontiff to attend a G7 summit and would participate in the session devoted to artificial intelligence under her invitation.

"The G7 will face what many, and not wrongly, believe to be the greatest anthropological challenge of this era, namely the advent of artificial intelligence , a technology that can generate great opportunities but which also brings with it enormous benefits. risks, as well as inevitably affecting global balances", said Meloni.

Meloni: 'A challenge that cannot be faced alone'

Francis has called for an international treaty to ensure AI is developed and used ethically and devoted his annual peace message this year to the topic.

"Our commitment is to develop governance mechanisms to ensure that artificial intelligence is human-centric and human-controlled, that is, that it keeps the person at the centre and has the person as its ultimate goal," Meloni explained.

Artificial intelligence has captured world attention thanks to advances by cutting-edge systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT that have dazzled users with the ability to produce human-like text, photos and songs. 

But the technology has also raised fears about the risks the rapidly developing technology poses to jobs, privacy and copyright protection and even human life itself.

"It is a challenge that none of us can think of facing alone and I believe that it is essential to valorise the best of the ethical and intellectual reflection that is developing in this area". Meloni said in her video address on Friday.

"I heartily thank the Holy Father for having accepted Italy's invitation. His presence gives prestige to our nation, to the entire G7," the Italian Prime Minister added. 

"It is the first time in history that a pontiff participates in the work of the group of seven. The Holy Father will do so in the session which is also open to the invited countries and not only to the members of the G7"

'It is necessary to protect the dignity of man'

A comment on the Pope's participation in the G7 then came from Paolo Benanti, theologian, president of the AI ​​Commission for information of the Italian Government and the only Italian member of the United Nations Committee on Artificial Intelligence. 

"The invitation to the Pope as a man of charisma, but also as a man who interprets a tradition, which is the thousand-year-old wisdom of the Church, indicates and reveals to everyone the fact of how there is a need for a global and integral approach, to protect the dignity of man in the era of this hyper development of machines", said Benanti.

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