The Pope Heads To G7 For First Time To Talk About AI—After ‘Balenciaga Pope’ Meme

Published 1 month ago
By Forbes | Arianna Johnson
Vatican Pool Images 2024
Pope Francis meets some 160 priests who have been ordained for between11 and 39 years at the Salesian Pontifical University on June 11, 2024 in Rome, Italy. The meeting, behind closed doors, took place in the University’s auditorium. It was the third and final such encounter with priests of the Diocese of Rome, dedicated to those who have been ordained for between 11 and 39 years. The Holy See Press Office confirmed that Pope Francis will intervene in the G7 Summit in Italy’s southern Puglia region in the session devoted to Artificial Intelligence (AI). (Photo by Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)


Pope Francis is set to attend the G7 summit on Friday and is expected to urge world leaders to adopt AI regulations, a subject the Pope has spoken about several times in the past, including after he was the subject of viral AI-generated images that many believed were real.


The Vatican announced Pope Francis would attend the Group of 7 conference in Italy on Friday to discuss ethical concerns surrounding artificial intelligence during a session dedicated to AI, becoming the first pope to participate in the summit of leaders.

The Pope fell victim to AI in the past: AI-generated deepfake images of the Pope in a white puffer jacket and bedazzled crucifix—dubbed the “Balenciaga Pope”—went viral last year and racked up millions of views online, causing some people to believe the pictures were real.


He spoke about the fake images during a speech in Vatican City in January, warning about the rise of “images that appear perfectly plausible but false (I too have been an object of this).”

Pope Francis has spoken out about the danger of AI before, and he’s expected to urge world leaders at the G7 conference to work together to create AI regulations.

During the G7 meetings, Italy is expected to advocate for the development of homegrown AI systems in African countries, further work is expected to be done on the Hiroshima Process—a G7 effort to safeguard the use of generative AI—and leaders from places like the U.S. and the U.K. are expected to promote AI regulations introduced in their countries, according to Politico.

Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s prime minister, said in a statement in April the Pope was invited to the G7 conference to help “make a decisive contribution to defining a regulatory, ethical and cultural framework for artificial intelligence.”


The Vatican also announced Pope Francis will have bilateral conversations with leaders of other countries, including President Joe Biden, President Samoei Ruto of Kenya and India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi.


The Pope has been speaking out about the need for artificial intelligence regulation for years. The Vatican has been promoting the “Rome Call for AI Ethics” since 2020, which lays out six principles for AI ethics, which include transparency, inclusion, impartiality, responsibility, reliability and security and privacy. As part of the August 2023 announcement for this year’s World Day of Peace of the Catholic Church—which was held on Jan. 1—-the Pope warned of the dangers of AI,saying it should be used as a “service of humanity.” He called for “an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects.” In December 2023, the Pope called for an international treaty to regulate AI as part of his World Day of Peace message. He urged world leaders to “adopt a binding international treaty” to regulate AI development, adding it shouldn’t just focus on preventing harm, but should also encourage “best practices.” The Pope noted that although advancements in technology and science lead to the betterment of humanity,” they can also give humans “unprecedented control over reality.”


Italy—one of the G7 summit’s rotating hosts—became the first country to temporarily ban AI chatbot ChatGPT in March 2023 after Garante, an Italian data protection regulator, claimed the chatbot violated the European Union’s privacy laws. Garante claimed ChatGPT exposed payment information and messages, and allowed children to access inappropriate information. Other countries that have passed or introduced laws regulating AI include Australia, China, the European Union, the U.S., Japan and the U.K.


Pope Warns Artificial Intelligence Could ‘Fuel Conflicts And Antagonism’ (Forbes)