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Pope will attend G7 summit to discuss artificial intelligence, Italy says

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Pope Francis gestures from the Pope mobile, as he attends the weekly general audience, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 24, 2024. (REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo)
By Crispian Balmer | REUTERS

Pope Francis will attend this year’s Group of Seven (G7) leaders’ summit to discuss the challenges posed by artificial intelligence, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Friday.

The pope this year warned against the “perverse” dangers of AI and renewed a call for worldwide regulations to harness it for the common good.

The G7 meeting is being held in the southern Italian region of Puglia from June 13-15 and draws together the leaders of the United States, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, as well as a few specially invited guests.

“It is the first time in history that a pontiff will take part in the workings of a G7,” Meloni said in a video message.

She said he would join a session dedicated to AI, calling it one of “the greatest anthropological challenges of our time”.

“I am convinced that the presence of His Holiness will give a decisive contribution to drawing up an ethical and cultural regulatory framework to Artificial Intelligence,” Meloni said.

Italy, which currently holds the rotating chair of the G7, this week approved a bill aimed at laying down ground rules for the use of AI, earmarking investment in the sector and setting sanctions for AI-related crimes.

“(It is) a technology that can generate great opportunities, but also brings enormous risks, as well as inevitably affecting global balances,” Meloni said on Friday, adding that AI had to be “both human-centred and human-controlled.”

Pope Francis spoke of his fears and hopes for AI in January.

While he urged people to temporarily “set aside catastrophic predictions and their numbing effects” about new things, his three-page message was mostly dire, warning of “cognitive pollution” that can distort reality, promote false narratives and imprison people in ideological echo chambers.

A month earlier, he called for a legally binding international treaty to regulate AI, saying algorithms must not be allowed to replace human values and warning of a “technological dictatorship” threatening human existence.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Gavin Jones, Alex Richardson and Ed Osmond

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