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    Pope Francis, Microsoft Chief Discuss Prospects of AI Development - Holy See

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    VATICAN CITY (Sputnik) - Pope Francis received Microsoft’s President Brad Smith in Vatican City and discussed the prospects of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies with the businessman, Alessandro Gisotti, The Holy See’s spokesman, has said.

    During the meeting on Wednesday, Smith emphasised that AI should be used for the well-being of society. Moreover, Microsoft’s chief spoke about some ways to overcome a global gap in the development of digital technologies.

    Smith was accompanied by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, during his visit to Vatican City. Smith and Paglia told Pope Francis that Microsoft together with the academy planned to establish an international prize on AI ethics.

    The Pontifical Academy for Life is actively engaged in public discussions on issues dedicated to AI. On 25-26 February, the academy will hold a workshop dubbed Roboethics: Humans, Machines, and Health. In addition, it plans to carry out another workshop focused on the development of AI in 2020. Sputnik has learned that Smith has agreed to attend the meeting.

    READ MORE: Artificial Intelligence Poker Bot Drafted For US Military — Report

    On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies involved in research and development to prioritise AI in upcoming funding requests for fiscal year 2020 to help protect US leadership in the next technology frontier.

    The order also instructs the Secretaries of Defence, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Energy, the NASA administration and National Science Foundation director to make high-performance computing resources available to AI researchers.

    Some cybersecurity watchdogs have meanwhile warned that artificial intelligence could become widely-used in cyberattacks in the near future. In particular, the German-based security software firm Avira published in January a list of possible threats to be aware of in 2019, featuring a warning that AI could switch to "the Dark Side".

    The company stressed the use of AI in combination with a variety of techniques would make cyberattacks stealthier and increase their occurrence. The prevalence of smart gadgets with low security, it said could further strip away user privacy by semi-legally monitoring of their activities.

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    Moreover, over the past few years, various renowned scientists, engineers, inventors, and human rights activists have called for an international ban on the development and use of AI technology in the military sphere.

    According to media reports, Russia is also engaged in the active development of AI technology. Vyacheslav Volodin, the Speaker of the State Parliament has said that the country's lawmakers would develop legislation regulating relations between people and artificial intelligence in the near future, adding that it would be beneficial to use the experience of foreign countries on this issue.

    READ MORE: China Emerges as Artificial Intelligence Research Hub


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