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Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Pope Francis called Friday for a ban on “lethal autonomous weapons”, as he became the first pontiff to address the G7 with a speech on the perils of artificial intelligence.

“In light of the tragedy that is armed conflict, it is urgent to reconsider the development and use of devices like the so-called ‘lethal autonomous weapons’ and ultimately ban their use,” the 87-year-old said.

“This starts from an effective and concrete commitment to introduce ever greater and proper human control. No machine should ever choose to take the life of a human being,” he told the meeting in Puglia, southern Italy.

Francis, invited by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to address the Group of Seven summit, has repeatedly denounced the arms industry and those he says profit from wars and death.

AI is already being used on the battlefield and its move into modern warfare is raising concerns about the risks of escalation and the role of humans in decision making.

AI has shown itself to be faster but not necessarily safer or more ethical, and the development of weapons systems that could kill without human intervention poses ethical and legal challenges.

“Artificial intelligence (is) at the same time an exciting and fearsome tool,” Francis told leaders gathered at the luxury Borgo Egnazia resort.

“We would condemn humanity to a future without hope if we took away people’s ability to make decisions about themselves and their lives, by dooming them to depend on the choices of machines,” he warned.

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