During The Digital Workforce Summit 2018, IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube spoke with Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican’s communications department, about the role of morality in Artificial Intelligence. The conversation delved into the Vatican’s use of technology to help reach out to its followers, as well as an explanation of what Adrian Ruiz believes man’s role should be in ensuring safe autonomous technology.
The following is an edited transcript of the conversation. It has been edited for clarity.
Chetan Dube (CD): We have the distinct privilege of bringing not only the best brain in Artificial Intelligence, but the best brain in affairs of the cosmos [to DWS]. We only have one person who I know has done a Ph.D. and doctorate in non-therapeutic biomedical studies, and we have the privilege of having him with us. He also heads the Vatican’s communications. Who better a person to be able to have here and ask about Vatican’s plans for Artificial Intelligence, and who better to have here than to ask about what values should we see in Artificial Intelligence? Should Amelia go to church?
Monsignor Lucio Andres Ruiz: Thank you for this invitation. [And] the opportunity to share this time with you, and with all these people that are the big minds thinking in the future, thinking of human life. For this reason, I just arrived from Rome, and now I leave again for Rome. I want to share this time because I think that it’s really, really important, all of your jobs, and this moment to share different views of the technology and different views of life. Thank you very much.
CD: The privilege is ours. It’s an honor.
Monsignor Ruiz: About the question. I think that it’s really important to understand the role of anthropology, thinking about man, human life. In all the actions of man, everything must be [focused on] looking and thinking [about] human life. Because everything is made with our criteria. Everything is made with an idea about who is man. Which is man? For example, in architecture, if you think that man is just part of the production, you can construct a house with a kitchen, bedroom, and toilet, and no more. But if for you, the person is really important, you need to put a park, something to distract, someplace for pleasure. There are many other things that you need to think in order to construct a human person. That is the answer for Artificial Intelligence. What is the value? Why do we need to think about anthropology? Because we are working for man. For the human life. For the human person. It’s not something that you put there and that’s it. This is necessary to think about in everything, in working and creating. And for that they think that Artificial Intelligence today is a huge, huge opportunity for humanity to reduce pain, reduce diseases, and reduce suffering in the world.
CD: I think it’s absolutely terrific. Your perspective is, I think it’s fascinating what you say. The purpose of Artificial Intelligence is for it to work for man. And that’s for the human life to be improved. That’s why we have AI. I think it’s brilliant, Monsignor, your thoughts. Thank you.
So many schools of thought say it’s going to cure what you said: disease and hunger. And another school of thought says, [such as the late] Stephen Hawking, that it’s going to be the final invention for man. Just before Professor Hawking’s passed away, he said, “We have about 100 years.” What do you think? What’s the command from above?
…Artificial Intelligence today is a huge, huge opportunity for humanity to reduce pain, reduce diseases, and reduce suffering in the world.
— Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz, Secretary of Communications,
Monsignor Ruiz: Well, in all of human life, your power, your strength, is also, in the same vein, your weakness. For everybody. My most important capacity, my most powerful capacity, is also my weakness. Well, in this case, Artificial Intelligence is the power to make the world something good for human life, but also, in the same vein, is the possibility in the wrong hands to lead to disaster. Because of its huge amount of information, knowing people, the activity, the mind, the health. If you use that in order to help people, that is the way to do something good. If you manage it in bad way, that’s a disaster. Well, the answer is, the possibility is an intention. What do you want to do? For this reason, when creating technology, it’s important to create also the laws and the moral thoughts [behind the technology]. We cannot do something alone, made in a way that this alone, without connecting every other aspect of human life, because nothing is without love, without life, and without responsibility. We need to work together to develop and to think about the creation of the technology, also with the laws to manage it well, not to control it, but to manage it well. And also the morals.
CD: That’s fantastic. How do we teach Amelia good moral values? And how do we make these agents that are coming up be good citizens in this world? Can man and machine flourish together? And if they have to flourish together, how do we teach machines to be good citizens in this walk alongside man?
Monsignor Ruiz: Well, the question is not how make the machine a good citizen, because the machine is not doing something with its will and its love and its own intelligence. There is someone behind that work to create a procedure, algorithms, to know reality and create the new solution. This is what is important. Who is the person that is writing the code? What are the moral values that the person that is creating, dreaming something new, what is the thought that this person has in his head? Because when he creates the code, he puts his intention in it. His values. This machine will work and make decisions alone, but with the code, with the parameters, that I, as a programmer, you, and everybody that is working around the world put in this intelligence. When the machine acts, it’s [already too] late.
CD: Very well said. So, what are Vatican’s plans for Artificial Intelligence? I know that you have over a million calls come in a day, and I know that you have talked to Amelia, so what are your plans for Artificial Intelligence? How do you plan to use Artificial Intelligence?
Monsignor Ruiz: We are in the process of changing our way of communicating. The culture is new. We are in a new culture. Everybody in the world needs to receive love, to receive some tenderness and mercy, words and feeling of tenderness and mercy, and we know that. We are looking for ways in order to provide and to help the people that want to receive that. In this way, we are thinking which opportunity and tools we have in this culture to bring to the people. Because our intention is stay close to the people. We must stay close. Because if people that want to go to the Holy Father or to the Vatican to receive something in the mind, the technology is a good, great, excellent way to put them together, to bring close the people that want to be.
CD: You know, to your point, Monsignor, if you look at Global Citizen, this morning you heard they are planning on using Amelia as their emissary, for their mission statement to eradicate poverty. And they want to enlist, by 2030, the global community to eradicate poverty. And who better, as an agent to enlist the global community, than take a cognitive agent and to send it as an emissary? Does that model work? Can there be Artificial Intelligence agents that spread the gospel, that actually can spread the good way and encourage man to be better? Can it be a symbiotic existence where there’s good ideas flowing from both sides?
Monsignor Ruiz: The action comes from the intention. And the intention comes from the human. Everything else is a tool. And the tool is managed for something, for someone that wants to use the tool. That’s important. If a person that wants to help the people really wants to help, he uses everything that he has in hand. In this way, I think that Artificial Intelligence can really help. The question always is to manage, as I said before, manage the information, everything that the Artificial Intelligence provides. Because there is always a risk that something so powerful could became a little bit problematic. But anyway, the answer is, if the intention is good, if the person is powerful and wants to help others, and if the tool is good, it’s the best marriage.
CD: Bravo. From your mouth to God’s ears. Well, this has been an absolute honor, having you with us. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with us on the Vatican and AI. Thank you.
Monsignor Ruiz: Thank you very much.
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