The Rome Call to Artificial Intelligence Ethics: Inside the mind of the Machine: How the Church can respond to the ethical challenges presented by AI.

Joseph Nelson

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The profound changes in human lives brought about by AI call for a new code of ethics, regulations, and recommendations to ensure that AI is a force for the Common Good. The Rome Call for AI Ethics, whose signatories include the Pontifical Academy for Life, Microsoft, and IBM, lists a range of recommendations and principles to assist in this ongoing discernment. It brings together corporations, educational institutions, and governmental bodies to agree to these principles and assist in ensuring that AI is used responsibly, ethically, and fairly.

    This article will assess what the Rome Call asks its signatories to do and highlight how the agreement seeks to develop an ethical framework that ‘focuses not on technology, but rather [on] the good of humanity’ (Rome Call, 2020) and the wellbeing of all creation. However, as with much of the current ethical theorising about AI, the Rome Call remains as principles and recommendations which, as such, are not enforceable and are entirely voluntary. Furthermore, the document offers few specific recommendations and fails to address the wider contextual limitations such as political tension and economic incentive. Likewise, some of the significant issues at present in AI are transparency and understandability of the model in use. The Rome Call recognises this but offers little in the way of recommendations or critiques other than to state that AI should ‘in principle… be explainable’ (Rome Call, 2020). Whereas it could be argued that a better and more thorough document would call for black boxes and other unexplainable forms of AI to never be used; the response to this issue by the Rome Call is weak.

    AI by its very nature is inter- disciplinary and thus requires a range of perspectives and inputs from a variety of sources and disciplines. Hopefully, the Rome Call can be used to foster ethical frameworks that will lead to real action and internationally/governmentally enforced agreements. The Rome Call is a great step in the right direction but now a way must be found to move forward and put the principles of the document into practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
    EventThe Trinity Conference 2022: a Catholic response to the Digital Age - Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, United Kingdom
    Duration: 9 Jun 202210 Jun 2022

    Academic conference

    Academic conferenceThe Trinity Conference 2022
    Abbreviated titleTC22
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Catholic Social Teaching
    • Rome Call


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