02/27/2019, 15.08
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Argentine Rabbi: intelligence comes from God, not from machines

by Nirmala Carvalho

Fernando Szlajen is attending the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. This year's theme is "Roboethics. Humans, Machines and Health ". For the rabbi, “there is a common denominator among religions,” that technology “came to serve human beings and not human beings serve technology."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life is currently underway in the Vatican with artificial intelligence as one of its topics. Rabbi Fernando Szlajen, from Argentina, is one of the participants.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the Jewish clergyman said that "God gave intelligence only to man, not machines. This is why there is no 'artificial' intelligence" as such.

Rabbi Szlajen agrees with Pope Francis, who, in receiving participants, highlighted how artificial machines are useful, but should not be confused with human beings. "In Judaism [. . .] intelligence and conscience are an exclusively human quality,” he explained.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Academy's founding. In his address to its members, the pontiff emphasised the risk “that man is being technologized, rather than technology humanized”.

For the rabbi, "when God created humans and breathed life into man, the explanation is that within this life God gave humans intelligence and conscience. So intelligence and conscience are exclusively for humans. Therefore, there does not exist any ‘artificial’ intelligence.”

The theme of the assembly at the Vatican is ‘Roboethics. Humans, machines and health’. For Szlajen “there is a common denominator among religions, at least the major religions, that technology, in Greek ‘techne’, came to serve human beings and not human beings serve technology.”

Thus, “the major message to secular civilisation from all religions” is “Don't be a slave to your own production. You need to conserve your status.”

“In the same way that God created human beings and human beings can never be God . . . for human beings who produce technology, technology can never be a human being.”

Finally, the rabbi praises Pope Francis' initiatives to support interfaith dialogue. "It is the time to act. The Pope is very helpful in this way.”

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