Proposals to Humanize the New Information Technologies

Suggested by Vatican Representative at “Infopoverty” Conference

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MILAN, Italy, MAY 10, 2004 ( The lack of access to information and communication is above all a humanist challenge, a Vatican representative told the 4th Infopoverty World Conference.

Speaking recently on “Ethics as a Prerequisite for Development,” from the headquarters of the conference in Milan, Monsignor Enrique Planas pointed out some of the fundamental criteria to overcome the so-called digital gap.

The speaker, a representative of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, explained that it is necessary that “the technologies be under the control of the human being and not vice versa.”

“Therefore, it would be inadmissible that fundamental aspects of the human person — namely, love, thought, social life, relations with transcendence — remain imprisoned in these new technologies,” he warned.

The Vatican representative clarified that the proposals he was presenting to the forum have matured thanks to the experience of the Information Network of the Church in Latin America (RIIAL), of which he is the founder. RIIAL has helped to unite the region’s widely separated Catholic communities.

“The fact that the technologies of communication make the ‘global village’ possible should lead to asking new questions about man and his dimensions,” Monsignor Planas said.

“Thousands of people work to improve computer programs, but what is their horizon?” he asked. “Without a correct anthropology — and, I would add, without the light of the Gospel — technological development can lead to the absurd.”

According to Monsignor Planas, the authentic anthropological challenge posed by the possibilities offered by these means lies in “passing from the information society to the knowledge society.”

Today, he contend, there are symptoms of “communicational asphyxia that leads to the suppression of freedom.”

“Accumulated data simply does not constitute learning,” the monsignor said. He said information must be analyzed well and presented within a context.

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