Pope calls for science not to be separated from moral judgement

This Thursday, February 23, François received members of the Max Planck Society for Development who work in the field of basic research. He worried about the development of “hybrid thinking”, halfway between biological thinking and artificial intelligence, and the primacy of technical feasibility over ethics in the field of science.

Adelaide Patrignani – Vatican City

The Holy Father, slightly ill today due to a cold, preferred not to deliver his speech during the audience granted to seventeen members of the Max Planck Society for the Development of Science. The German non-profit association, financed by the federal government and the sixteen federal states, fulfills a fundamental research mandate.

In his text, the Pope invites them to remain free for the time being “from any undue influence of a political or economic nature. This is an essential requirement in all phases of scientific work, from the initial phase to the dissemination of the results and their use,” he emphasizes and pleads for a better upgrading of basic research.

Where will hybrid thinking lead?

François then addresses a topic of particular relevance, namely the development of “the “hybrid thought” resulting from the hybridization of biological and non-biological thinking, which would make it possible not to replace humans with artificial intelligence”. This project “raises both ethical and social questions of great relevance”, does the Pope think after whom “The merging of human cognitive abilities and machine computing power would significantly change the species Homo sapiens”. The Pope invites us to ask ourselves the question “ultimate meaning” this scientific innovation.

“If this is not a concern for those who recognize themselves in the transhumanist project, it is not for those who, on the other hand, advocate the advancement of the neohumanist project, according to which the gap between actions and intelligence cannot be accepted”, he writes. As a matter of fact, “If you separate the ability to solve problems from the need to be intelligent to do so, you negate the intentionality and thus the ethics of action.”

Integrate different types of responsibility

The Pope then castigated the principle of responsibility “technically” who is gaining ground “in the realms of great science that admit of no moral judgment as to what is right or wrong”. In other words, the action is evaluated “Purely functional, as if everything possible were ethically permissible for that very reason”. “The Church can never accept such a position, from which we already have too much evidence of the tragic consequences,” explains the Holy Father, who asks to be handed over to the center “Responsibility as caring for others, not just as a record of what one has done”.

Francis believes that the“One is not only responsible for what one does, but also and above all for what one does not do when one could do it”.

Finally, he encourages the members of the Max Planck Society to take action against these abuses through their scientific work.

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