Vatican to Launch a Hackathon

By Mei Manuel, March 08, 2018 21:03 PM


The Vatican will be hosting its very first hackathon this week, VHacks, utilizing the skills of students from 50 universities worldwide to talk about the issues noted by Pope Francis as priorities.

At least 120 students and 35 mentors will be taking part in the event in Rome for three days, focusing on issues such as social inclusion, migrants and refugees and interfaith dialogue.

According to the president of the research and innovation network Optic and Catholic priest Father Eric Salobir, the event's aim "is to bring people with backgrounds in technology, business, civil society and the humanities together to bring new perspectives to key global issues."

Aside from the Vatican, the event is also done in partnership with Google, Microsoft and other top tech companies worldwide.

Students are also from various backgrounds, enabling more insight to tackle these issues. According to one of the organizers of the event Jakub Florkiewicz, Muslims, Jews and people with no faith will be attending the event. The five continents would also be represented in the event.

The Pope has spoken about the positive benefits of technology and science in terms of increasing knowledge and understanding. However, he has cited that technological growth should be partnered with equality and social inclusion. He also warned against the setbacks presented by tech-based interactions and artificial intelligence for these technological breakthroughs cannot replicate human connections.

Father Salobir also adds "Because [the pope] points to dangers doesn't mean he's anti-technology. It's the way it's utilised. He is really concerned about a certain type of technology related to a certain type of capitalism."

He said the hackathon was "a sign of the transformation of the [Catholic] church led by Pope Francis. It's a way to bring fresh air, youth and technology inside the Vatican, and to get these students to concentrate their energies on real problems."

The church had a high level of engagement with big global technology companies, "but this is not done in front of the microphones. It's discreet," he said.

The hackathon begins on Thursday and will conclude with an awards ceremony to award the most innovative contribution in combining technology and human values.


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