Pope Francis met with Microsoft President Brad Smith on Wednesday at the Vatican to discuss the ethical use of artificial intelligence and how to bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations, Reuters reports.
The Vatican’s Academy for Life, a research organization that promotes the church’s life ethic, announced it will jointly sponsor a prize with Microsoft (MSFT) for the best doctoral dissertation in 2019 on the topic of “artificial intelligence at the service of human life.” The winner will receive €6,000 ($6,800) and an invitation to Microsoft’s headquarters.
Smith told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that “strong ethical and new, evolved laws” were needed so that technology such as A.I. does not fall into the wrong hands. The Microsoft president listed ethics, A.I., and people-centered tech among his top concerns for 2019 in a LinkedIn post last month.
The 81-year-old Pope Francis, who once described himself as a “disaster” when it comes to technology, joined Twitter in 2013 (taking over the @pontifex handle used by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI) and Instagram in 2016. He now has nearly 18 million and 6 million followers on the platforms, respectively.
In January, the pope launched a prayer app called Click to Pray. “Internet and the social networks are a resource of our time, a way to stay in touch with others, to share values and projects, and to express the desire to form a community,” he said in that week’s prayer.