Why G7 Leaders Seek Pope Francis Guidance on AI Ethics at the 2024 Summit

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“Discover why G7 leaders have invited Pope Francis to the 2024 summit to discuss the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. Learn about the Rome Call for AI Ethics, the challenges of AI bias, and how the pope’s moral perspective can guide responsible AI development for the greater good.

Why G7 leaders are turning to a special guest
Why G7 leaders are turning to a special guest

Why G7 Leaders are Turning to a Special Guest — Pope Francis — for Advice on AI

In an unprecedented move, the leaders of the world’s leading industrialized nations are turning to a unique guest for guidance on the risks posed by artificial intelligence (AI): Pope Francis. This week’s G7 summit in Bari, Italy, marks the first time a pope has been invited to participate in such a high-level international gathering. Pope Francis’s inclusion in the summit underscores the growing recognition of AI’s profound impact on society and the need for ethical guidance in its development and deployment.

Pope Francis and AI: A History of Engagement

Pope Francis’s involvement with AI is not new. His engagement with the subject dates back several years, reflecting his deep concern about the ethical implications of emerging technologies. In his annual New Year’s Day message, the pope emphasized the potential for AI to be used for peace, urging a focus on how technology can benefit humanity.

The pope’s interest in AI is also personal. Last year, an AI-generated image of Pope Francis wearing a large white puffer coat went viral, highlighting the dangers of deepfakes and misinformation. This incident brought attention to the challenges posed by AI-generated content and the need for robust ethical frameworks to manage its impact.

The Rome Call for AI Ethics

In 2020, the Vatican, in collaboration with tech companies like Microsoft, launched the Rome Call for AI Ethics. This initiative aims to promote transparency, accountability, and ethical principles in AI development. Although the commitments are voluntary, the Rome Call has garnered significant attention and support from various stakeholders, including governments and private sector entities.

“The Italian government has been seeking to elevate the messaging behind the Rome Call for AI Ethics and also secure new signatories,” said Gregory Allen, the director of the Wadhwani Center for AI and Advanced Technologies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. This effort reflects a broader push to integrate ethical considerations into the global AI discourse.

G7’s Stance on AI

G7 leaders have been discussing AI and its ethical implications for several years. Last year, during the summit hosted by Japan, G7 nations agreed to the Hiroshima Framework for AI, a set of international principles aimed at guiding AI development. While neither the Hiroshima Framework nor the Rome Call for AI Ethics are legally binding, they serve as foundational documents for future regulations and accountability mechanisms.

“A lot of that [Hiroshima] language is now reflected in the text of the European Union AI Act, which is a compulsory piece of legislation. And in the United States, similar ideas are showing up in things like the White House voluntary commitments on AI that the White House negotiated with several companies,” Allen noted.

The focus on AI at G7 ministerial meetings has expanded to include discussions on AI’s impact on labor, economies, and disinformation. With many elections taking place globally this year, G7 leaders are particularly concerned about AI’s role in spreading misinformation and influencing political processes.

The Pope’s Unique Perspective

Pope Francis brings a unique perspective to the AI discussion at the G7 summit. As a religious leader, he approaches the issue from a moral and ethical standpoint rather than a political or economic one. This distinction allows him to address the broader implications of AI on society, including its potential to help the poor and protect the environment.

Brian Green, director of technology ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, highlighted the significance of the pope’s moral authority. “As a religious leader, the only thing he really has is his moral authority, which means that he can’t really come with a big political agenda to something like this. He can’t come with a huge economic agenda, but he can come with a moral agenda,” Green said.

Green, who was involved in an AI report released by the Vatican in 2023, believes the pope will emphasize the ethical use of AI to create a better world. “There is a chance here for ethics and politics to work together to create a better world, specifically with this very powerful technology which is going to be transforming the future,” he added.

AI and Ethical Challenges

The inclusion of Pope Francis in the G7 summit highlights the growing recognition of the ethical challenges posed by AI. From deepfakes and misinformation to biases in AI algorithms, the potential for harm is significant. However, the technology also offers immense opportunities for positive impact if developed and used responsibly.

One of the critical issues is the inherent bias in AI systems. AI algorithms are often trained on datasets that reflect existing social biases, leading to biased outcomes in areas such as hiring, law enforcement, and lending. Addressing these biases requires a concerted effort to ensure fairness and equity in AI applications.

The White House has been actively working on this issue, collaborating with hackers and experts to identify and mitigate biases in AI systems. Such initiatives are crucial for building public trust in AI technologies and ensuring they are used for the benefit of all.

AI for the Greater Good

Pope Francis’s message at the G7 summit is likely to focus on how AI can be harnessed for the greater good. By prioritizing ethical principles and human-centered values, AI can be directed toward positive outcomes, such as improving healthcare, addressing climate change, and reducing poverty.

The Rome Call for AI Ethics emphasizes the importance of transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in AI development. These principles are essential for ensuring that AI technologies are aligned with human values and contribute to the common good.

Moreover, the pope’s moral authority can inspire global leaders to adopt a more ethical approach to AI governance. By integrating ethical considerations into policy-making and regulatory frameworks, governments can create an environment where AI technologies are developed and deployed responsibly.


The participation of Pope Francis in the G7 summit represents a significant moment in the global conversation about AI and its ethical implications. As AI continues to transform societies, the need for ethical guidance and oversight becomes increasingly critical. The pope’s involvement underscores the importance of integrating moral and ethical considerations into the development and deployment of AI technologies.

By working together, political leaders, technologists, and religious figures can create a framework for AI that prioritizes human dignity, equity, and the common good. The G7 summit, with the inclusion of Pope Francis, marks a step toward achieving this vision, highlighting the potential for AI to be a force for positive change in the world.

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