Pope set to Attend G7 Summit and Highlight AI Challenges

Pope Francis is expected to attend the Group of Seven (G7) leaders’ summit in 2024 to discuss AI challenges, amid widespread calls for global regulations

Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, will be attending the G7 summit to discuss AI and its challenges, according to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Having been very outspoken about the potential threat and human risk posed by AI, the Pope has frequently called for global regulations to harness technology for the common good.

The G7 meeting will be held in Southern Italy from 13-15th June 2024, with leaders from countries such as the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, in addition to specially invited guests.

Leaders are expected to discuss AI guardrails in the wake of signing an agreement to unite and harness the innovative potential of AI to enhance enterprise productivity in a safe way.

Ushering in the next era of “safe AI”

Having been privy to many AI discussions this year already, The Pope often speaks of his fears and hopes for AI. In a Vatican City speech in January 2024, he urged humanity to “put systems of artificial intelligence at the service of a fully human communication”.

He also called upon world leaders to ensure that AI does not worsen global inequalities and injustices, highlighting a need for vigilance concerning growth of the technology. He is currently advocating for AI to exist to promote freedom and fulfilment around the world.

Indeed, the Pope has been the subject of numerous AI deepfakes, as very realistic fake images of him circulated the internet at the start of 2024. It highlights how AI-generated content is increasingly becoming more advanced, making it more difficult to distinguish between what is real or fabricated.

If generated and used by threat actors, deepfakes have the potential to seriously harm public trust. This is especially the case with crucial elections taking place around the world in countries such as the US, UK and India.

In particular, India has already announced that it will hold businesses to account if they harness deepfake technology, which prompted further conversations about global AI legislation.

Global AI regulations set to continue

While he advised people to temporarily "set aside catastrophic predictions and their numbing effects" about new things, Pope Francis mostly warned of “cognitive pollution” that could work to distort reality, promote false narratives and trap people in damaging ideologies.

He has also been vocal in his support for international treaties to regulate AI, stating that algorithms must not be allowed to replace human values. Speaking at the start of the year, he encouraged people to rally against a “technological dictatorship” that could one day threaten human existence.

Last week (April 2024), he met with Chuck Robbins, CEO of digital communications giant Cisco Systems, after Robbins signed the Rome Call for AI Ethics. Signed by leading figures in the AI development space, the Rome Call is designed to promote ethical choices in developing the technology, alongside legal standards in regulation and education initiatives to help people understand AI and its role across multiple industries.

With new regulations coming into play across Europe and other countries around the world, it remains to be seen how the AI landscape will shift in the near future.

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