Microsoft and Vatican – an alliance for ethical artificial intelligence

In the future, artificial intelligence will fundamentally determine our lives. AI applications will shape all areas of everyday life and work. However, technological change not only has an impact on processes, it also has to address ethical issues.

An interesting development was that the Vatican now deals with the topic AI. Pope Francis met on Wednesday with Microsoft President Brad Smith and the Head of the Vatican Office, which represents the positions of the Catholic Church on human life.

Through the cooperation between Microsoft and the Catholic Church discussed here, an alliance on a spiritual as well as a technological level is created, because the Vatican, together with the tech giant, wants to establish an academic prize for the promotion of ethics in artificial intelligence.


“We need strong ethical principles, new evolved laws, people educated with new skills and even reform in the labor market,” – Brad Smith


During a half-hour meeting at the Pope’s residence, Smith discussed the topic of artificial intelligence with reference to the common good and the targeted overcoming of the digital divide that still prevails in many parts of the world. According to a press release, the prize will be awarded to the best doctoral thesis from 2019 that deals with the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence.

In addition to 6,000 euros, the winner will also receive an invitation to the Microsoft headquarters in Seattle and to the General Assembly of the Academy, which will take place in Rome in February 2020.


The Catholic Church has not always maintained a good relationship with science and research in history. Often the two areas are even regarded as contrasts, the conversation between Microsoft and the Vatican therefore has a very special relevance. In my opinion it is praiseworthy that the two formative institutions are joining forces to illuminate another side of artificial intelligence.

There is often too much discussion about risks or opportunities, but a balanced consideration of all components of the new and forward-looking technology is the only way to make it successful in the long run. All levels of society, both spiritual and technological, must deal with AI in order to establish it in society in the long term.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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