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Vatican conference explores new technologies in post-pandemic world

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is organizing a conference titled “Promoting Integral Human Development and Peace in the Digital Age. New technologies in the post-covid world.”

Scheduled for 9 December, the event will take place both online and in-person, at the Sala Etchegaray at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, from 14:00 – 18:00 pm CET (or 8:00 – 12:00 EST).

The conference is the result of a collaboration between the dicastery, the Vatican Covid-19 Commission, the Diplo Foundation, Torino World Affairs Institute, Pax Christi International and the Catholic University of America.

Ethical reflection on post-pandemic society

The event is aimed at bringing to light emerging moral and ethical questions related to the impact of technologies on the post-pandemic world with a view towards creating new approaches to integral human development and peace.

A statement from the Dicastery announcing the conference highlights that the Covid-19 pandemic has widely affected the entire spectrum of human activity, and has piqued global reflection on the structures and phenomena that govern the world. Notable among these is the rapid development of new types of technologies, new generations of artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, the internet of things and 5G technologies.

These developments, the statement notes, are seldom accompanied by moral reflection. Hence, the importance of a “comprehensive moral and ethical framework” without which these rapid technological advancements “risk sharpening inequalities and leaving the most marginalized behind.” More so, a far-reaching moral vision could “could set these technologies towards minimizing harm and serving integral human development.”

Pope Francis, in Laudato si’, has also called for a shift away from the technocratic paradigm (LS 106). The conference will therefore aim to “contribute to the global dialogue on the role of new technologies in the post-pandemic era with a view towards integral ecology, justice, an integrated “One Health for All” approach, and a more communal economic system.”

Format

The event will feature in-person and virtual participation from speakers during sessions streamed live on the YouTube accounts of the Dicastery in English, with simultaneous interpretation in Italian and Spanish. It will begin with an introduction, followed by two sessions deepening reflection on the theoretical role and practical implications of new technologies, including a presentation on the work of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission’s New Technology for Peace and Integral Human Development Working Group.

Experts will offer scientific and ethical analysis, along with case studies, showcasing how new technologies can be placed at the service of integral human development especially in the fields of food security, healthcare – including promoting fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, dignified labor, peace and security, and promotion of a communal economy. Crucial questions will also be raised regarding the use of technologies and their impact in the light of Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti Encyclical letters.

 

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