Sapienza joins Rome Call for AI Ethics: an ethical approach to Artificial Intelligence

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On Friday, October 30, 2020,  in the "Sala del Senato", Rectorate Building, Rector Eugenio Gaudio (in the picture) has officially formalised the participation of Sapienza in the "Rome Call for AI Ethics" in the presence of Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Archbishop Paglia said: 

"The signature of the Rector of La Sapienza University in Rome, professor Eugenio Gaudio, whom I especially thank, together with all the Academic Senate, is the first signature that is added to those affixed to the Rome Call on February 28, 2020.

I wish to underline the importance of the connection between the various fields of knowledge to work harder and better so that an ethical and humanistic vision of Artificial Intelligence prevails.

We could say that in this way we promote both the search for an ever more in-depth and shared understanding of the changes we are experiencing and the assumption of the responsibilities that comes with them.

Indeed, the Pontifical Academy for Life believes that a real call to responsibility is necessary so that civil society, academic and scientific institutions, governments and international institutions, the world of hi-tech enterprises, may understand the significance of the ethical question in relation to the phenomenon of new technologies and, in particular, Artificial Intelligence systems.

I am therefore very glad that the first signature of this new series is that of a University Rector, the Rector of a University such as La Sapienza, the largest European university, able to offer courses in so many areas of specialization within a global framework of knowledge and constant dialogue between different disciplines. Fostering and enhancing this constructive dialogue is a decisive aspect to put even the most powerful technologies at the service of men and the common home they live in: an alliance between humanism and technology is much needed, two dimensions that modernity has divided; that alliance is one of the crucial cultural challenges of our time. We must recompose a broad vision encompassing the differences and articulating them as a whole. That is the very meaning of universities in their birth: the dialogue between different fields of knowledge in view of a common horizon for the communitas. In this context, the universitas was the formative space for future generations. Actually, they are the ones who need appropriate instruments to address the issues which are being announced today, but which will unfold in all their scope tomorrow".

The religious experience and its ethical instance can also contribute to this comprehensive dialogue and to this formative task, aimed at safeguarding what is human in all its dimensions, even in its greatest frailties, as Pope Francis has been teaching us for many years: “Technology is making continuous progress, but “how beautiful it would be if the growth of scientific and technological innovations were also matched by ever greater equity and social inclusion! How beautiful it would be if, while we discover new distant planets, we rediscovered the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us!"

This quotation is my wish. May the signing of this Call be a sign that we are united in building universal fraternity.

In his speech, Father Paolo Benanti, theologian, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University and Academician of the Pontifical Academy for Life, noted that "the Rome Call is, in fact, a call to all men of good will who realize the need to work in unity to establish ethical principles, taking into account the whole process of making artificial intelligence systems, which starts from research and design and ends with the use that individual or institutions can make of them. We all hope that this way of accompanying technological development, which tries to anticipate problems and the search for solutions, rather than intervening only afterwards, can be fruitful and give good content, strength and support to that newborn cultural movement that critically questions artificial intelligence. The goal is to focus technology on a humanism that always safeguards and promotes the dignity of the human being".

(Original texts: Italian. Translation by Leonardo Stefanucci; revised by Fabrizio Mastrofini)