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Pope to endorse principles on AI ethics with Microsoft, IBM

Vatican officials on Friday planned to release principles promoting the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI), with the backing of Microsoft Corp and International Business Machines Corp as the first two technology industry sponsors.

The “Rome Call for AI Ethics” asserts that the technology should respect privacy, work reliably and without bias, consider “the needs of all human beings” and operate transparently – an area of ongoing research because AI systems’ decisions are often inscrutable.

The document reflects growing interest among companies and institutions to set guardrails for the fast-evolving technology. Police have used facial recognition systems to investigate crimes, and Fortune 500 companies have used AI to vet job applicants – both examples of high-stakes tasks where deploying inaccurate or biased software could lead to harm.

The Vatican’s initiative grew out of concerns that Pope Francis raised about AI and its effect on society more than a year ago, according to John Kelly III, executive vice president of IBM and one of the signatories.

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