Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby endorses Rome Call for AI ethics

The Archbishop of Canterbury endorses the “Rome Call” effort for ethical development of artificial intelligence, saying “Let us all work to ensure that the dignity of every human being, created by God, not for profit or productivity, is central to all we do.”

Vatican News

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has joined other illustrious leaders, ethicists, and university professors in signing the “Rome Call” for the ethical development of artificial intelligence. Archbishop Welby, leader of the Anglican Communion, endorsed the initiative on 30 April at a ceremony in Rome at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy for Life, according to a note from the Academy and its RenAIssance Foundation.

The Call for AI Ethics is a document that “aims to foster a shared sense of responsibility for human dignity amid rapid technological advancements.” 

Working for human dignity

“I am delighted to support the Rome AI Call, which emphasises the dignity of every human being amid technological change,” Archbishop Welby said when signing the document on behalf of the Church of England.

“While we can’t predict the future, we do know that there will continue to be rapid developments in science and technology and we need to be prepared,” he noted. While recognizing the enormous potential AI can offer “in improving human capability,” he emphasised that we must also strive “to protect, preserve and cherish the dignity of the human person.” The enormous advances made in AI, therefore, “cannot be the sole property of its developers, or any single part of the human race,” but benefit all in serving the common good, safeguarding climate, and aiming at sustainable development.

“So much of how we understand Artificial Intelligence,” Archbishop Welby concluded, “comes down to how we understand the nature of being human” and our working together “to ensure that the dignity of every human being, created by God, not for profit or productivity, is central to all we do.”

Pope Francis will take part in the upcoming G7 session on Artificial Intelligence under Italy’s presidency of the group.

Looking to the common good

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the RenAIssance Foundation expressed his satisfaction with the “inclusion” of our Anglican brothers and sisters and thus the “further step of growth” of the Rome Call. “When reflection and dialogue on issues of technological development meet in a spirit of fraternity,” he writes, “it is possible to find shared paths and effective solutions to build peace and the common good.”

Fr. Paolo Benanti, Extraordinary Professor of Ethics of Technology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and scientific director of the RenAIssance Foundation, also enthusiastically welcomed this event, stating, “With this new growth of the Rome Call we can look with renewed confidence to algorethics, that is, to the positive contribution of the ethical approach to artificial intelligence. It is never merely a matter of innovation. Rather, it is about transforming the latter into human development. It is also very important that the heritage of human wisdom represented by religions speaks to the whole of humanity, enhancing what is shared in order to address contemporary challenges.”

Since the launch of the Rome Call in February 2020, many stakeholders have signed the document including representatives from the Abrahamic religions and the Italian government, and companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco.

The Rome Call for AI Ethics

The Rome Call for AI Ethics is a document conceived and promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life, as well as the RenAIssance Foundation, established by Pope Francis in 2021 with the aim to promote its call for an ethical approach to artificial intelligence. The idea is to foster a sense of shared responsibility among international organizations, governments, institutions and the private sector as part of efforts to create a future in which every individual can benefit from advances in technology, and so that technological progress ensures that the dignity of every individual and our common home is respected. By investing in a new algoretic, signatories commit to follow what the Rome Call principles cite in terms of transparency, inclusion, accountability, impartiality, reliability, security and privacy.

RenAIssance Foundation

The non-profit RenAIssance Foundation promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life aims to support anthropological and ethical reflection on new technologies and their influence on human life. In promoting the Rome Call for AI Ethics, the RenAIssance Foundation supports scientific initiatives and collaboration with international organizations, nations, universities, research centers, private and public companies that develop activities, services and studies in the field of artificial intelligence.

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