The hope is that AI is not misunderstood as a new Other, but rather reminds us of the need to keep alive the question of the Other.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 17, 1936, the son of Italian immigrants. He was ordained a priest in the Society of Jesus in 1969. Appointed auxiliary bishop in 1992, he became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and was created a cardinal in 2001. In March 2013, he was elected Pope, the 266th Pontiff of the Catholic Church, taking the name Francis.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 24 January 2024

The message from Pope Francis, “Artificial Intelligence and the Wisdom of the Heart: For a Fully Human Communication“, is a powerful call to the necessity of uniting technology and humanity. Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of using artificial intelligence (AI) in a way that fosters the common good and improves the quality of life for all, rather than creating divisions or inequalities.

One could say “Scientia potentia est” which means “Knowledge is power“. This reflects the idea that AI, as a form of knowledge and understanding, can be used to empower humanity, but it must be guided by the wisdom of the heart.


Corinthians 13:2: “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing”. This biblical verse underscores the importance of love and compassion, which should guide the use of AI.

Attached is the message that we recommend reading before delving into the article.

The Pope’s message focuses on the responsibility and neutrality of artificial intelligence (AI), clearly outlining that it possesses neither human intelligence nor consciousness; rather, it represents a set of tools that operate differently from humans, devoid of emotions and consciousness, and serve as support for thought.

In the past, AI has been discussed as Enhanced Intelligence, highlighting its potential to enhance human intellect. However, the message suggests considering AI as an Agency without Intellect, emphasizing that it is the indispensable task of humanity to guide and use these systems correctly. Human responsibility in designing, controlling, and employing AI is vital for the destiny of humanity.

The Pope warns that anything under human control can be both an opportunity and a danger, including AI. However, he also emphasizes that algorithms are not neutral, thus implying that technology inherently has an ethical impact. This tension between neutrality and ethical impact can be understood by considering a dual polarity, similar to static equilibrium in physics.

AI, by its nature, can be both a positive and negative force. It is up to humanity to foster the positive aspects and mitigate the negative ones, avoiding “wrong hands” influencing the future. This requires trust in human ability to handle technology responsibly.

The fundamental questions at the end of the message highlight the numerous implications of AI, from issues of dignity of labor to environmental protection. The answer to each of these questions depends on the choices and actions of humanity in the present, not on a predefined future vision.

It is up to humankind to properly guide all technology, including AI, and address the challenges it poses. The text urges us to grow together, in humanity and as humanity. This implies understanding and preventing the harmful and discriminatory outcomes of AI, avoiding social injustice and the reduction of pluralism, and ensuring that AI serves all humanity and the environment.

Thus, two tensions emerge: that between human communion and solidarity and an apparent individualism in the decision-making process.

The text invites us to reflect that our consideration must start from the human heart to properly use such powerful technology. However, we should not interpret this call as a support for modern individualism. The human heart is not simply a center of individual decisions but is the starting point for a common journey. It is through the internal spiritual journey that we can begin to understand our connection with others and with the Other.

Reading the text suggests that contemporary “relational” language is more appropriate than modern “mechanistic” language. Human hearts are not isolated like atoms but are rather nodes from which to understand the connections between them. This “wisdom of the heart” introduces a third tension between rules and spirituality, highlighting the need to integrate the spiritual dimension into our relationship with technology and our worldview.

The Pope emphasizes that AI regulation alone is not sufficient. This reminder is agreeable, but the text goes further, indicating that a “spiritual gaze” is also necessary alongside models of ethical regulation. This perspective may be misleading for an agnostic philosopher, but an initial quote from Romano Guardini offers guidance: “A new human type must be formed, endowed with a deeper spirituality, with new freedom and interiority.”

Both ethical and legal being are not enough; a “spiritual being” is necessary to understand and guide technological innovation preferably. AI and the digital revolution could bring not only social and environmental benefits but also a spiritual rebirth that starts from the individual to embrace the entire human community.

This personal consideration leads me to conclude by reflecting on this potential spiritual rebirth, which rests on the individual heart and expands to involve the collective.

In modern times, it seems we have drifted further away from the concept of transcendence, from the perception of something completely different and superior to us. This detachment began with the proclaimed “death of God” and has further intensified with mankind’s increasing dominion over nature, once seen as mysterious and now ruthlessly exploited. Today’s spiritual crisis is not so much a problem of self-reflection – we have plenty of that already – nor of introspection, which is not lacking either. It is rather a crisis of inner dialogue, an inability to communicate, even on a Socratic level, with an “Other.”

The real modern distraction, the noise that obscures the signal, is an individualistic anthropocentrism that leaves no room for anything beyond ourselves. Thanks to globalization, we are constantly exposed to forms of alien and often conflicting diversity: among individuals, genders, social classes, ethnicities, nations, peoples, religions, and philosophies. However, these forms of diversity are still rooted in the human, they do not represent an Other that is truly beyond our human experience, but rather a familiar form of diversity, even if experienced on a daily basis, whether considered divine by believers or purely natural by non-believers.

The only thing that modern humanity has experienced as a true Other is this new entity capable of actions that are neither biological nor intelligent in the traditional human sense, but which has demonstrated a surprising ability to improve itself, its interactions, and to achieve goals successfully: artificial intelligence. It is understandable to feel threatened or replaced by AI, but it would be a grave mistake (though unfortunately common) to consider AI as a new Other, a sort of intelligence different but superior to ours, whether salvific or apocalyptic.

Instead, we should hope that this technology helps us to regain the sense of not being the sole focus of existence, of not being at the center of the universe (as Copernicus taught us), of life on Earth (as Darwin taught us), of our inner world (as Freud taught us), and now, of the digital infosphere (as Turing teaches us). The hope is that AI is not misunderstood as a new Other, but rather reminds us of the need to keep alive the question of the Other. In other words, to quote Cardinal Martini, we hope that AI makes us restless again.

We can reflect on the passage from the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 3:5-6), which invites us not to rely solely on our intelligence or abilities, but to recognize the Other in every action of ours. In this context, AI can serve as a reminder of our need for transcendence and our need for dialogue with the Other.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onyour own understanding; in all your ways submit toHim, and He will make your paths straight.

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