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Microsoft, IBM join Pope Francis to push for these six AI principles

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  • The Vatican called for stronger regulation of the use of artificial intelligence in a plan announced Friday, as first reported by Reuters.
  • The document also said AI tools should work fairly, transparently, reliably, and with respect for human life and the environment.
  • Microsoft and IBM joined with Pope Francis in endorsing the document, according to Reuters.
  • This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has weighed in on the moral and ethical issues that come with new technologies.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Pope Francis wants to see facial recognition, AI, and other powerful new technologies follow a doctrine of ethical and moral principles. 

In a joint document made public on Friday, the pope, along with IBM and Microsoft, laid out a vision that outlined principles for the emerging technologies and called for new regulations, as first reported by Reuters.

The Vatican’s “Rome Call for AI Ethics” said that AI tools should be built “with a focus not on technology, but rather for the good of humanity and of the environment” and consider the “needs of those who are most vulnerable.”

The “algor-ethics” outlined in the document included transparency, inclusion, responsibility, impartiality, reliability, security, and privacy, alluding to debates that have emerged around topics like algorithmic bias and data privacy.

Along those lines, it called for new regulations around “advanced technologies that have a higher risk of impacting human rights, such as facial recognition.” Facial recognition technology in particular has sparked concerns in recent years, thanks to research showing its problems with racial bias and the lack of transparency from companies that develop it.

The document, which was also endorsed by Microsoft and IBM, is not the first time Pope Francis has weighed in on ethical issues surrounding technology. At a Vatican conference last September, the pontiff warned that technological progress, if not kept in check, could lead society to “an unfortunate regression to a form of barbarism.”

Others, both within and outside of the tech community, have rolled out plans to address the potential side effects of AI. In January, the Trump administration unveiled a binding set of guidelines federal agencies must follow when designing AI policies, while the European Union announced its own non-binding principles last April.

Various individuals and organizations within the tech industry have spoken out about regulating AI, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, as well as AI ethics groups like AI Now and OpenAI.

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