Throughout human history, man’s interaction with artefacts – in other words, technology – has been one of the defining characteristics setting us apart from other species. But according to one of Italy’s leading experts on the ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the growing importance and pervasiveness of AI raises fresh questions about this relationship.
Father Paolo Benanti is both an engineer and a theologian. A Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, his specialisms include robotics, digital ethics and their implications for human values.
In our #TechTalk, Father Benanti argues that, while man has always lived in a “techno-human condition” where human beings and machines work together, it is more important than ever for AI proponents to put humans – not machines – first. The challenge is to ensure that human-machine-relationships are framed in a way that benefits people.
Father Benanti identifies finance as a key area where “algo-ethics” – which is how he labels the ethical and social consequences of automated decision-making – will be particularly pertinent. For example, if someone tries to get a mortgage the algorithm that ends up determining their credit worthiness could compute the transaction purely in terms of economic value if designed too narrowly. To avoid this kind of situation, Father Benanti argues that algorithms need to incorporate a broader definition of human values.
He argues that AI can only be characterized as a justified, progress-oriented and human-friendly tool when rooted in a moral commitment made by individuals, institutions and governments united for the common good. To achieve this, he says, we need both political and socio-economic engagement as well for the private sector, civil society and faith-based organizations to take responsibility.
Find out more about Father Benanti’s views by watching the full #TechTalk here: