Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Vatican reaches out to Silicon Valley

The Holy Father is anything but a techie. He admits to not knowing how to use a computer and encourages parents to forbid smartphones at the dinner table. Nevertheless, Pope Francis has granted audiences to more big tech magnates than most leaders of major world powers.

In January 2016, Francis met Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. Their chat only lasted 15 minutes and the content of their conversation wasn’t disclosed by either party. However, a source within the Vatican told the Guardian that they were joined by Jared Cohen, a former US State Department official who now leads Google Ideas (renamed Jigsaw that year). This “think/do tank”, as Cohen calls it, uses Google’s massive digital infrastructure to protect activists from oppressive governments.

Later that month, the Pope hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook. Francis said that modern communications are “a gift from God” in his message released the same day. The Holy Father added that they “can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarisation and division between individuals and groups”.

[Read more at the Catholic Herald.]

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