- May 13, 2021
Pope Francis on Saturday named Irish Bishop Paul Tighe the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, essentially cementing his status as the top aide to Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. For the better part of a decade Tighe has been an effective emissary for the headquarters of the Catholic Church, among other reasons because he’s widely regarded as perhaps the Vatican’s nicest guy.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, expressed differing views on the role and dangers of Artificial Intelligence. But experts say that the issue could be the “excessive” humanization of robots, which might raise existential issues and questions in humans.
The greatest worry for Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not that it will become sentient and then try to kill us, or raise questions of computers achieving personhood and challenging human uniqueness; but rather whether this very powerful technology will be used – by humans – for good or for evil.
Modern technological advances are calling into question what it means to be human. Biotechnology is changing people from guardians into creators. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi says these new technologies “have ethical and cultural implications that need to be considered.”
Australian Cardinal George Pell, chosen by Pope Francis to be the Vatican’s first Secretary for the Economy, said on Tuesday that inequality and progress are “inextricably linked,” but globalization “is not ‘anywhere near the threat that robots are’.”
A recent “Atlantic” piece charged that Christian theologians aren’t adequately engaging the issues posed by Artificial Intelligence, but part of that is because many theologians can see beyond the hype. Moreover, many theologians and even Pope Francis actually are addressing the real issues.
From automated cars to cheap 3D printing, technological advances now on the horizon are shaping a brave new world. The proper Catholic response is to discern, because such revolutions generally come with unintended negative consequences too.