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  4. PM Modi shares hug with Pope Francis at G7 Outreach Summit in Italy | WATCH

PM Modi shares hug with Pope Francis at G7 Outreach Summit in Italy | WATCH

Francis became the first pope to address G7 leaders on Friday at their annual gathering in southern Italy. He will address the session on the promises and perils of Artificial Intelligence and is also expected to make a plea for peace across global conflict zones.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Rome Updated on: June 14, 2024 21:02 IST
PM Modi meets Pope Francis
Image Source : ANI PM Modi with Pope Francis in Italy.

G7 Summit 2024: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday greeted and shared a hug with Pope Francis at the G7 Outreach Session on ​Artificial Intelligence, Energy, Africa and the Mediterranean in Italy. The Pope was escorted to the summit by host, accompanied by Italian PM Giorgia Meloni in a wheelchair, and was greeted by several leaders including  France's Emmanuel Macron and European Parliament chief Ursula von der Leyen.

After the Pope visited British PM Rishi Sunak, he was greeted by PM Modi, who promptly shared a light-hearted exchange with the 87-year-old pontiff and held a brief candid conversation with him. The pope will address the session on the promises and perils of Artificial Intelligence and is also expected to make a plea for peace across global conflict zones.

PM Modi later expressed admiration for the pope's commitment to serve people and make the planet better, while extending an invitation to visit India.

The pope was invited by Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, knowing the potential impact of his star power and moral authority to twin a broadly shared concern about AI with his priorities about peace and social justice. No such popular pressure is being applied to G7 leaders in the Italian city of Puglia, but Francis is expected to wield his own moral authority to renew his demands for safeguards for AI and highlight the threats to peace and society it poses.

The Prime Minister met Pope Francis during a private audience at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican in October 2021. At the time, the two leaders discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for people across the world. They also discussed the challenges posed by climate change. According to the PMO, India and The Holy See – the Vatican-based government of the Catholic Church – have friendly relations dating back to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1948. India being home to the second-largest Catholic population in Asia is hopeful of a papal visit next year.

Pope Francis becomes first pontiff to address G7 leaders

Francis is the first Pope to address G7 leaders on Friday at their annual gathering in southern Italy. He intended to use the occasion to join the chorus of countries and global bodies pushing for stronger guardrails on AI following the boom in generative artificial intelligence kickstarted by OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot.

"The holy scripture says that the God gave to human beings, his spirit in order for them to have wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge in all kind of tasks. Science and technology are, therefore, extraordinary products of the potential that are active in us human beings... The God made it possible for AI to emerge," the pope said in the G7 Outreach Summit on Friday.

"This is an extremely powerful tool which is used in many areas of action from medicine to labour, from culture to communications, from education to politics. We can take it for granted that its use will influence in a growing way, our social interactions, our way of life, and in future also the way we understand our identity as human beings," he added.

PM Modi is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Pope Francis. Heads of the governments of Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Jordan, Kenya, and Mauritania – in its capacity as chair of the African Union, Tunisia, Turkiye and the UAE are among the other outreach nations joining India for the session on AI.

Pope Francis' stance on AI

As the head of the Vatican Catholic Church arrived to address the Outreach Summit, the room, which had been boisterous with delegations, went quiet as he greeted each of the G7 members and the expanded guest list. PM Modi was seen speaking to his British counterpart Rishi Sunak, and both of them stood up to greet the pope.

In his annual peace message this year, the pope called for an international treaty to ensure AI is developed and used ethnically. He argued that a technology lacking human values of compassion, mercy, morality and forgiveness is too perilous to develop unchecked.

Generative AI technology has sparked fears about AI safety and led to a jumble of global efforts to rein it in. PM Modi himself has raised the threats to personal safety through artificial intelligence technology such as deepfakes. Francis said AI must keep foremost concerns about guaranteeing fundamental human rights, promoting peace and guarding against disinformation, discrimination and distortion. On the regulation front, Francis will in some ways be preaching to the converted as the G7 members have been at the forefront of the debate on AI oversight.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | G7 Summit 2024: Italy's Giorgia Meloni greets PM Modi with 'namaste' | WATCH

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