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Pope Francis is first pope to address G7 summit, meets with Biden, world leaders

Pope Francis speaks at G7 summit
Pope Francis becomes first pope to address G7 leaders 02:30

Pope Francis, the first pope to attend a G7 summit, urged the leaders of the world's wealthy democracies Friday to keep human dignity foremost in developing and using artificial intelligence, warning that the technology risks turning human relations into mere algorithms. 

G7 Leaders Summit - Day Two
Pope Francis meets with President Joe Biden during the G7 Leaders Summit on day two of the 50th G7 summit at Borgo Egnazia on June 14, 2024 in Fasano, Italy.  Divisione Produzione Fotografica / Getty Images

Francis was invited by Italy's prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, the host of the summit, to address a special session on the perils and promises of AI. He offered an ethical take on an issue that is increasingly on the agenda of international, governmental and corporate board summits. 

The pope said politicians must take the lead in making sure AI remains human-centric, so decisions about when to use weapons — or even tools that are less lethal — always remain made by humans and not machines. 

"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 said. "We need to ensure and safeguard a space for proper human control over the choices made by artificial intelligence programs: Human dignity itself depends on it." 

G7 Leaders Summit - Day Two
Pope Francis poses with the G7 heads of State, Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Giorgia Meloni, Italy's Prime Minister; Joe Biden, U.S. President; Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan; Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and others at Borgo Egnazia on June 14, 2024 in Fasano, Italy.  Vatican Media via Getty Images

The pope himself has also been the subject of AI-generated mischief. Last year, when images appeared online showing the 86-year-old pontiff atypically wrapped up against the elements in a stylish white puffer jacket and silver bejewelled crucifix, they soon went viral, racking up millions of views on social media platforms. The photos were an artificial intelligence rendering generated with the AI software Midjourney.

The spread of AI and migration were two of the major topics discussed by world leaders at the summit. After the session, the pope, in a wheelchair and white robes, met separately with the G7 leaders and was greeted with a round of applause, and he spoke with them for about 25 minutes.  

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