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The Holy See and Microsoft are teaming up to promote an academic prize for the promotion of good ethics in artificial intelligence.

Last Wednesday, Pope Francis met with the president of Microsoft Brad Smith at his Casa Santa Marta residence. Also in attendance was Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life. For about thirty minutes, the pair discussed:

“Artificial intelligence at the service of the common good and activities aimed at bridging the digital divide that still persists at the global level.”

Smith said he appreciated the “instructive and deep discussion” and the “fruitful dialogue” he and the Holy Father shared in discussing AI: “we were all impressed by the pope’s curiosity and energy.”

“At Microsoft, we are convinced that technological progress can increase the possibilities of unlocking solutions to some of the greatest challenges in the world,” but, he added, those new avenues also require thinking about ethical guidelines.”

Smith and Archbishop Paglia also discussed with Pope Francis the international award the Pontifical Academy for Life would be joint sponsoring, a prize for best doctoral dissertation of 2019 addressing the ethics on “artificial intelligence at the service of human life.” The winner will receive $6,900 and an invitation to Microsoft’s Seattle headquarters.

In February of 2020, the Pontifical Academy for Life will hold their plenary assembly under the theme of artificial intelligence. The winner of the award will be given an invitation to present their thesis at the assembly, of which Microsoft President Brad Smith said he too will be in attendance.

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