By: The Verge

November 11, 2020

Pope Francis has asked believers around the world to pray that robots and artificial intelligence “always serve mankind.”

The message is one of the pope’s monthly prayer intentions — regular missives shared on YouTube that are intended to help Catholics “deepen their daily prayer” by focusing on particular topics or events. In August, the pope urged prayer for “the maritime world”; in April, the topic was “freedom for addiction.” Now, in November, it’s AI and robots.

Although the message sounds similar to warnings issued by tech notables like Elon Musk (the Tesla CEO famously compared work on artificial intelligence to “summoning the demon”), the pope’s focus is more prosaic. He doesn’t seem to be worrying about the sort of exotic doomsday scenario where a superintelligent AI turns the world into paperclips, but more about how the tech could exacerbate existing inequalities here and now.