The Indian doctor is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life whose members were received by Pope Francis in audience yesterday. India is a land of inequalities. Robotics can be used in medical treatment and against deforestation. Lest we forget, machines “lack the freedom to choose."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In a country like India, "marked by extreme poverty and extreme wealth", robots can benefit society, "provided they are designed to prevent abuse and are morally adapted to 'humanity," said Pascoal Carvalho, a doctor from Mumbai and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who is taking part in the Academy’s plenary assembly (25-26 February) in the Vatican.
Yesterday Pope Francis received in audience the members of the Academy, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year. The gathering includes a workshop on ‘Roboethics: humans, machines and health’.
In his address, the pontiff stressed how artificial machines are useful, but should not be confused with human beings. He warns that “the risk of man being ‘technologized’, rather than technology humanized, is already real: so-called ‘intelligent machines’ are hastily attributed capacities that are properly human.”
For the Holy Father, "artificial devices that simulate human capabilities are devoid of human quality. This must be taken into account". What is more, "A dramatic paradox is thus outlined: just when humanity possesses the scientific and technical capacities to achieve a justly distributed well-being, [. . .] we observe instead an exacerbation of conflicts and an increase in inequality.”
For Dr Carvalho, India is clearly a land of inequalities. "I come from a country with profound contrasts,” he says. “Even basic health care is not available in rural areas. Environmental degradation is another serious cause of concern. The challenge of poverty and the environment are two sides of the same coin."
Following the pontiff's call to use the benefits of artificial intelligence in the most appropriate ways, he notes that "Robotics can play a major role in countering massive deforestation that has damaged various ethnic groups”.
In his view, robotics “must have moral obligations towards our ecosystem and society. We must, from a moral point of view, design [robots] so as to prevent abuse and morally adapt them to humanity ".
In terms of healthcare, "where costs are prohibitive, robots can be transformative.” However, “There is an important difference between men and machines. Humans are unique and irreplaceable. Machines are neither unique nor irreplaceable. This must be the basis of our country’s health system. Governments and other agencies must work together so that healthcare can be affordable.”
In the end, "robots are machines, not human. For this reason, their use must be rooted in morality. They must not be used in certain areas, such as war.”
“Unlike human beings, robots are the product of combined data, devoid of freedom. Even if they could become more intelligent, and their intelligence overcome man's intelligence, it would not change the fact that robots are different from human beings and lack the freedom to choose."