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Inside the VaticanMarch 30, 2023
the pope is seated facing away from the camera in front, facing a crowd of people in business clothes who represent artificial intelligence and tech industry leadersPope Francis addresses leaders from the tech industry at the Vatican March 27, 2023. The pope called for an "ethical and responsible" development of artificial intelligence. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“Balenciaga Pope!” That is what the internet is calling it.

Photos of Pope Francis wearing a luxury oversized white puffer jacket that sells for anywhere up to $6,000 went viral this weekend.

A single tweet of the pope’s updated winter wardrobe garnered 25,000 retweets, and Google Trends reported a dramatic increase in pope-related searches.

But, however realistic and convincing the photo might have appeared, it was a total fake, generated using an artificial intelligence platform.

“Has the Vatican said anything about the rapidly growing sophistication of algorithms and artificial intelligence, and the frightening capacity they have to deceive us?”

On “Inside the Vatican” this week, co-hosts Ricardo da Silva, S.J., and Gerard O’Connell look at why some tech bosses are turning to the Vatican for moral guidance as new and ever more sophisticated waves of artificial intelligence take hold.

“What is the moral position on A.I.?” Ricardo asks. “Has the Vatican said anything about the rapidly growing sophistication of algorithms and artificial intelligence, and the frightening capacity they have to deceive us?”

Later in the show, we parse the revised “Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” Pope Francis’ landmark instruction on the Vatican's procedural norms for dealing with the scourge of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, which goes into effect next month.

Until now, the instruction had been issued on an experimental three-year basis. But on April 30, it will be promulgated definitively into church law. Most of the document has remained the same but there are a few important changes, among them the fact that leaders of international lay movements can now be disciplined under church law for abuses committed against those in their care, and those to whom they minister.

“This is a work in progress,” Gerry says. “Nobody says the law as issued now is the final word. We may find that in another two years, Francis may well make another amendment to this law.”

Links from the show:

The Vatican is worried about artificial intelligence

Should we be worried about A.I.? Theologians, philosophers and Catholic thinkers weigh in

Pope Francis confirms ‘vulnerable adults’ are covered by updated Vatican sex abuse law

Pope Francis tells bishops of Latin America, where new sex abuse protections aren’t in place, to make it a priority

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