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The Catholic Church proposes AI regulations that ‘protect people’

The Catholic Church proposes AI regulations that ‘protect people’


IBM and Microsoft are the first companies to sign the ethical guidelines

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Photo: Pontifical Academy for Life

Vatican officials are calling for stricter ethical standards on the development of artificial intelligence, with tech giants IBM and Microsoft being the first companies to sign its new initiative. 

The “Rome Call for AI Ethics” lays out six broad principles: transparency, inclusion, responsibility, impartiality, reliability, and security and privacy. These principles say that technology should “protect people,” particularly the “weak and underprivileged.” They also urge policymakers across the world to create new forms of regulation on “advanced technologies that have a higher risk of impacting human rights,” which includes facial recognition.

AI must be “shaped at the outset by human interests and values”

“AI is incredibly promising technology that can help us make the world smarter, healthier, and more prosperous,” IBM vice president John Kelly III said after the initiative’s signing. “But only if it is shaped at the outset by human interests and values.”

The Vatican wants to ensure that companies are not using AI as a means to collect data without the consent of individuals and then using that data for commercial or political benefit. In one recent example, it was shown that thousands of federal government agencies and private companies were using software owned by face recognition company Clearview AI, which scraped facial data without people’s knowledge. The company’s database, which features more than 3 billion images pulled from various online sites, is being used by law enforcement to catch persons of interest. 

The document also says that a “duty of explanation” must be established and that AI-based algorithms should provide individuals with information on how these algorithms came to their decisions to ensure that there is no bias. Last year, US lawmakers introduced a bill that would do just that and allow the Federal Trade Commission to create rules that would force these companies to evaluate automated systems containing “highly sensitive” information.

Vatican officials hope to increase the number of signatories for its AI ethics initiative in the coming months. They also hope to collaborate with universities across the globe to promote more scientific research into ethical AI guidelines.