Algorethics at the UN

Oct 24, 2023 | Latest news

NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 2023 – “We must ensure the practical application of the concept of ‘algorethics,’ that is, ethics for algorithms.” In her speech at the 78th United Nations General Assembly, held in New York on Sept. 20, 2023, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni mentioned in her address the word behind the Rome Call for AI Ethics: algorethics.

Speaking about the topics that Italy will put at the core of its G7 presidency in 2024, the premier mentioned artificial intelligence: a technology that, she said, can prove to be a tool to improve the well-being of humanity but that must be managed to understand and direct the risks it brings.

“I am not sure that we are realizing enough the implications related to a technological development that runs much faster than our ability to govern its effects,” were the words of Giorgia Meloni, who continued: “We were accustomed to progress aimed at optimizing human capabilities, and today we are confronted with progress that threatens to replace human capabilities. […] We cannot make the mistake of considering this domain a ‘free zone’ without rules. We need global governance mechanisms capable of ensuring that these technologies respect ethical barriers, that the evolution of technology remains at the service of humans and not vice versa. We need to give practical application to the concept of “algorethics,” that is, giving ethics to algorithms”.

The term “algorethics,” coined by RenAIssance Foundation Scientific Director Prof. Paolo Benanti in 2018, was first used in his book “Oracles. Between algorethics and algocracy” and is meant to be a concept that opposes the domination of algorithms. “Algoretic” is thus meant to denote the need to study the ethical problems and the social, political, economic and organizational implications arising from the increasing use of information technology.

The word was then used by Holy Father Francis for the first time in his address to the participants of the Congress “Child Dignity in the Digital World” on November 14, 2019 and then on February 28, 2020, the day of the first official signing of the Rome Call for AI Ethics, in the speech prepared by Pope Francis and read by Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia for the meeting with the participants of the Plenary of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The widespread use of the term algorethics confirms the growing interest, at every level, in what the Rome Call intends to do: to promote a sense of shared responsibility among international organizations, governments, institutions and the private sector in an effort to create a future in which digital innovation and technological progress grant mankind its centrality.

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