Algor-ethics time: a debate in Rome

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Rome, March 15. “Authentic progress and human development are not mutually exclusive, in spite of economic and commercial interests in the field.” Fr. Paolo Benanti, a teacher at the Pontifical Gregorian University and an Academic of the Pontifical Academy for life, reaffirmed this statement in Rome at a conference organized by Maker Faire Rome, Data Driven Innovation 2019, and the Chamber of Commerce of Rome and its PID Digital Enterprise Point, in collaboration with the University of Roma Tre and the U.S. Embassy.

Among the participants in this conference was the writer James Barrat, author of the book Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, which deals with perspectives on and risks of ASI (artificial superintelligence superior to human intelligence).

Given the fact that there are machines that help doctors make diagnoses, and the fact that there are doctors who collaborate with these machines, we need to take into consideration the necessity of combining human worth with machines. “Algor-ethics”, noted Fr. Benati, “should give an algorithm social awareness. Law governs relationships between persons and between societies, and now we are governing the legal aspect of the introduction of interactive actors. We need new types of law that defend people, and indeed all of society. Will a machine sapiens become an alternative? Will it become symbiotic? We need a Ren-AI-ssance which has, at its core, education and integration between man and machine.

Artificial intelligence, therefore, is radically transforming many aspects of our lives. In bioethics, this transformation could affect areas in which enormous values are in play. AI can be an instrument of great humanization in an area such as medicine, but it could also be an instrument of great dehumanization.”

“Information technologies are the product of human beings and their ingenuity. These technologies could be extraordinary allies for creating good in ever-better ways, or they could be transformed into instruments of tragic outcomes. Unfortunately, one can’t think of the common good without presupposing a community that works to achieve it and an authority that seeks to direct social conditions to its creation. Therefore, it is certain that information technologies need people of good will who can direct technological progress towards authentic human development.”

Rome: March 15, 2019