God help us: The Pope suits up to go to war on AI

Pope Francis looking serious.
(Image credit: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty)

I'm not really sure why it works this way, but the Catholic church has released a statement previewing the message that Pope Francis is due to deliver on World Peace Day on 21 September this year. And the Pontiff, clearly having seen the faked image of him in a puffer jacket, is having none of this AI nonsense.

Pope Francis' address is where the guy who's got religion will tell you if your sin's original, and this year's theme is "Artificial Intelligence and Peace". The announcement gives a precis of the talk which acknowledges "the remarkable advances made in the field of artificial intelligence" but will go on to rain holy fire about its "rapidly increasing impact on human activity, personal and social life, politics and the economy."

Get ready to genuflect because Pope Francis is going to call for an open dialogue "on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects." Essentially it's the kind of message that even those involved in AI have been spreading for a while now, concerned that "a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded: injustice and inequalities fuel conflicts and antagonisms."

Pope Francis resists the urge to call on god to come down and smash up Google's servers, but will hit some familiar notes about using AI in a "responsible way" such that it is "at the service of humanity and the protection of our common home", alongside a call that "ethical reflection be extended to the sphere of education and law".

Finally: "The protection of the dignity of the person, and concern for a fraternity effectively open to the entire human family, are indispensable conditions for technological development to help contribute to the promotion of justice and peace in the world."

The statement was released via the amazingly named Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (a dicastery is an administrative office of the Holy See, not to be confused with the Holy Sea).

And it's no wonder really that the Pope's got the willies about AI: just last month a bunch of churchgoers in Germany attended a service delivered by ChatGPT, and you can even visit a livestream and ask AI Jesus some questions. Obviously that lot are Protestants, so the Catholics reckon they've got it all wrong about religion anyway, but many religious leaders will be looking at that and wondering if there really is a god.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."