Fr. GEORGIOS LEKKAS: THE PRINCIPLE OF THE SELF- RESTRAINT IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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In view of the First Annual Meeting on Artificial Intelligence recently organized by the European Commission, Protopresbyterian Dr. Georgios Lekkas, on behalf of the Director of the Representative Office of the Church of Greece to the European Union, Metropolitan Athanasios of Achaia, made today, on June 21, the following written statement posted on the European Commission website:


THE PRINCIPLE OF THE SELF- RESTRAINT AS A CONDITION OF A TRUSTWORTHY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

By Protopresbyterian Dr. Georgios Lekkas, Adviser to the Representative Office of the Church of Greece to the European Union

Given the character of the EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Al as a living document and in view of the First Annual Meeting organized by the European Commission (June 26, 2019), I would like to share with all those involved in this project the following statements:

The trustworthiness of Artificial Intelligence, in order to bend the resistance of local societies and to make the technological developments in question widely accepted, depends, in my humble view, also on the following conditions.

• Strengthening of the democratic processes and, above all, anticipating social controls to ensure that these applications do not come at the expense of the many, increasing the power of the few.

• Artificial Intelligence applications, instead of establishing uniformity on European (and global) level, should be trained by local social habits and local morals so that they are not rejected by individual societies as a foreign and indifferent matter.

It is, of course, a project dictated by the European principle of “unity in diversity”.

• These applications cannot be strongly embraced by the average European as long as the degree of autonomy we are willing to accept for these systems is not strictly defined.

In order to consolidate socially the trustworthiness of these systems, there is an urgent need for a European Commission initiative to create a legally binding framework that would exclude the creation of sophisticated man-machine recognized as cases of blatant violation of human dignity.

Ultimately, the widespread acceptance of Artificial Intelligence systems depends on the exclusion of the possibility that the sanctity of human life will be placed at the greatest risk through instrumentalization and objectivisation of the human body.

• The previous reflection confirms the need for a European defense policy founded on our own cultural and moral system. If the United States of America and China proceed to build man-machine for defensive purposes, will we follow them by sacrificing the values of European civilization or do we have to develop our own European system not with man-machine but against man-machine policy?

• It is, therefore, prudent to exclude machines from the protection of individual rights that have been legally intended to be provided solely for the protection of human beings, since the pursuit of certain circles to extend the protection of individual rights to include machinery is likely to be confused when it comes to boundaries, notably those separating human from machine man, with the danger of massive rejection of the machines by society.

• In conclusion, the degree of social acceptance of Artificial Intelligence systems is believed to depend on the degree of self-restraint of all those involved in the invention and putting into service of these systems. If the 19th century was the century of progress and the 20th century the century of autonomy, the 21st century must be the century of self-restraint.

The modern human being seems to be once again before the Tree of Knowledge. Will we be quite wise, and suspicious this time, so that we do not cut the last fruit?

If we do not today morally and legally restrict ourselves, those of our grandchildren who will not be mechanically and biologically “modified” tomorrow will be second-class citizens in relation to sophisticated man-machines, so it is a foregone conclusion that their fate will be similar to that of native Australians and Americans.

Do we have the right to allow such a possibility for our grandchildren and their children? And as long as we cannot exclude such a possibility, how can we be sure that intelligent human societies will not fully embrace the new applications?

Since the respect for the principle of self-restraint will ultimately be the factor that will lead us not only to our progress and autonomy, but also to our social coexistence and the rescue of our planet, we propose making the insertion and even the protection of the principle of self-restraint into the four basic principles of the European Code of Ethics for Artificial Intelligence at its first upcoming revision.

Brussels, 20.6.2019.

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