Fr. Gregory Gresko Prof. of Theology at Pontifico Anteneo Saint Anselmo Interview with Matt Bird at Humanity 2.0 | Traders Network Show – Vatican City

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Father Gregory Gresko Professor of Theology at Pontifico Anteneo S. Anselmo interview with Matt Bird at Humanity 2.0 (Vatican City)


  • Listening involves being able to respond not react
  • We are in a period of technological revolution and must keep humans at the center of our goals
  • Authentic human encounter is growing more important during this technological age


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Fr. Greg. Gresko, Professor of Moral Theology at Pontifico Anteneo S. Anselmo with Matt Bird

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 00:00    

Welcome back to the Traders Network Show and our continued coverage of the Humanity 2.0. I’m Matt Bird broadcasting worldwide from Rome, Italy at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. And my next guest is Gregory Gresko. He is the professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Anthenaim St Antsum. Listen, Gregory, Father Gregory. Thanks so much for joining us. You know we had a few minutes to chat yesterday during the event and the festivities before and afterwards. You know, I was outside for most of it. You were floating around inside. You caught a lot of the content if not all of it. There was a lot of amazing thought leaders. There’s a lot of amazing ideas. There was from ethics to, you know, morality to innovation.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 00:59    

An area that I found very interesting and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on. It was the business and ethics panel. And what was interesting to me, and I’ve heard this from numerous guests, was there was different perspectives on what business ethics is. Some thought it was climate control, some thought it was sustainability, some thought it was corporate social responsibility, and went it went across the board. It must be an interesting thing for you as professor of moral theology because this really gets down to moral being at some level in businesses operating morally. I mean ethically. What was your take on it? Is it one thing or is it all things?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 01:36     

You know, it’s, well, I mean, there is one truth. I mean, and the truth, that’s what we’re trying to get to. It’s like what is that fundamental truth that can unite everybody in common? But it’s vital to hear the diverse opinions and the various experiences because everybody’s coming in with different human experience. Every person has his or her own history and my own personal, interaction with a personal cultural dynamic, a personal, upbringing that they’re bringing into their work experience. And so it’s vital for us to listen to the diversity of opinions and perspectives, not just opinions. Which the choosing to believe this or that, but the experiences that are forming who they are that make them who they are in the workplace and as decision makers ultimately. And so in anthropology, this is a fascinating aspect of, of our work is that we have to look at the human experience and that’s lived at in different places in different ways.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute:  02:36    

It doesn’t mean that there isn’t something that can tie it all together, right? But anybody who, who’s coming into that room is probably representing a good number of people who aren’t presence in the room. The person’s hardly alone in thinking or feeling a certain way. So we need to listen. It doesn’t mean we always have to agree, but part of dialog is listening and being able to respond, not react, but to, to engage in a dialogue and exchange back and forth so that we can come to an understanding of what the key issues are. We may not be able to solve everything, but we can find in distill exactly what the core issues are. That really will apply to the vast majority of societies that are out there.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 03:14    

You know, I don’t mean to cut you off, but as I hear you talking about this and I reflect back on other feedback. I can’t help but feel that it isn’t, that they necessarily disagree, so I’m coming back to my own comment. It is I think that that we think is what is the most urgent that needs to be done. And it’s not that one is wrong, you know, one’s right or one’s wrong, but maybe it is, they believe that the climate control issue is the most critical to be solved and therefore this is what we should go down like sympatica, and you know, or corporate social responsibility when, if you’re looking down at the Google side of things or what have you. So, what do you think about it?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute:  03:57    

Ultimately, I think the next question I would have to ask any of them, whether I had sense I would agree or not would be “why do you think it’s top priority” and get to the underlying issues get to the underlying. Maybe a question is hiding in another question’s hiding another question and really drill deeply into, okay, maybe the climate control seems to be the big issue, but maybe there’s something even more fundamental. There may be a fear of being eradicated, a fear of our livelihood. Being able to continue. So we can look at that as part of the human condition that’s under threat and go, “okay, are there other aspects where that fear may be in common with other aspects of technology and industry? So we can address the fear?” And so ultimately, when Christian anthropology, what we’re looking at is what is good for the human person.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute:  04:49    

The technology can’t be the end goal. We’re not doing technology for technology’s sake. Technology is an instrument of a human being. It was always bigger. It was always of dignity in the Judeo Christian context of being created in the image and likeness of God. Technology is not creating the image and likeness of God. Technology is always going to be a thing. But the danger as technology accelerates in its development at almost warp speed and man is reflecting less and less when the impacts of that technology and whether a technology should be developed or should be implemented now, whether it can be or can’t be, but whether it should be and what human beings should be doing and what human beings should not give it to a machine to do, then that’s where we start getting into the questions of is this good for the human being?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute:  05:38    

And if it’s not good for human beings, is not going to be good for the common good for society. And so we can never put the human being at risk of being reduced to a thing. A human being is not a set of data points. And that’s it. We can’t say, okay, we give to big data. Okay, this bunch of data on this person, this bunch of, on this person. And the person becomes the data and the person actually forgotten and so the data is bought for a dollar or $2 and the person is disposed of is.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 06:07

Isn’t that what capital markets do? 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 06:10

That’s the danger of capital markets is to forget the humanity of the human being and so the church and its social moral teaching Pope’s of a hundred years in the past century and into the present age is always to the human being cannot be forgotten.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 06:26     

The capitalism cannot be completely unbridled. Yes, there’s free market economy and John Paul the second spoke very beautifully of that in various, in cyclicals among the other popes as well, but it can’t be a free market without responsibility for the common good. It can’t be a free market that is so unbridled that the needs of the weakest and the poorest are forgotten. It doesn’t mean creating an entitlement in society where you just throw money at everything. That doesn’t fix a problem either. But how do we create structures that lead for nobody to be left behind that help everybody to move forward? And so that when there’s a legitimate capitalism that’s at play, everybody’s being considered the good of all is seeking to be promoted so everybody’s lifted up, nobody’s being pushed down so that certain few can be lifted up. And if that’s not considered, that’s where you start to see some revolts among people. You start to see people getting very angry. I’ve been left out, I’ve been forgotten.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 07:28    

Certainly seeing that now and the tools to communicate that message are worldwide and social media is proliferated. The number of different narratives and messaging and sure that allows people to find other people who believe the same thing, which didn’t quite exist 10 years ago. Bringing it back to Humanity 2.0, I believe it could be a very effective integrative launching pad for your efforts, for big business, and for social change. If it’s done right. How do you guys, you know, when, when, when you looking and evaluating cause this is 2.0 this is the, there was one last year, was that 1.0?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 08:12     

I think Humanity 2.0 it is spoken of more from the perspective of this new horizon we haven’t reached yet and that humanity in order to really remain human and not lose its humanity needs to keep the proper considerations in mind and the ethical decisions need to be made in the right way. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 08:37

Do you think, what are your hopes as far as Humanity 2.0 as a launching pad? 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 08:44

Well I think it’s got tremendous potential and that what we saw yesterday for example, is that it brought all sorts of people together. It brought thought leaders together, it brought decision makers together. It brought educators together. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 08:57

The president of Malta 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 08:58

They brought government leaders together. And these are the people who should be talking to each other. There should be open dialogue. There should be an exchange of ideas. This is what really collaboration is all about.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 09:11     

This is all ultimately what dialogue is about. That through the word DIA logos that there is a true exchange of ideas. That there is a real cooperating and that it’s through that working together that we can reach a better good and we can come to an understanding of what truly is good, what’s authentically good, St Thomas Aquinas would say. What seems to be good and apparent good may not be able to deliver on its promise of happiness that it says. And so a lot of things in technology may seem good on the surface, but if we don’t step back and have reflection, bring in the philosophers, bring in the ethicists and as I say, we have all the answers, but we’re skilled a bit in kind of asking some questions that would help to promote the dialogue, to be able to help everybody come to the right answers. So what are some things that bring us all in common? Even though they’re going to be different ethical systems, the human beings important, the human being should not be instrumentalized and reduced to a thing to be used.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 10:14    

Versus the thing itself being used. Like this piece of technology. Interesting. You know, we’ve actually gotten to a point where the technology runs without our direction. It’s been algorithms been put in place and it does at a Thomas Lee versus we’ve got tech analytic technologies like this which we use and we’re in control of the output are as AI. And this is a big topic and I don’t want to get off, but I really like where this conversation goes going as AI begins to emerge and it’s a topic worldwide right now. We’ve got privacy issues. We’ve got, you know, data mining issues. We’ve got, you know, big data and all of the things that go with the whole full bag accounts. Where’s the church’s stance on this?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 11:02     

Well, I think ultimately where the church is going to come in is always in defending the dignity of the human person creating the image and likeness of God. So image of God may be looks like God or she looks like God and the likeness of wellness acts like God. And so what does it mean to act like God? If we say God is love, then human beings are called to act like God by loving each other, love God and love neighbor. And that if we don’t love God, we’re not going to be able to love her neighbor. Well, if we’re not loving our neighbors, Jesus says in the Christian context, we’re not loving God, whoever we love the least, maybe how we love God the most. And so we have a responsibility that’s in common to that love, a love that is not responsible to the other end for the others, not real love.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 11:51     

And so that is what brings solidarity to the human race is that we are United as brothers and sisters as humans even and creeds. I still have a responsibility to love as God loves each of the people I encounter. And that’s one of the dangers of technology. If technology is becoming the end in itself and humans are instrumentalized humans become reduced to being things, the idea of an encounter gets lost. Human experience is not brought into the consideration the way it needs to be. That’s one thing artificial intelligence. I had to say that in quotes because I really don’t believe there is such a thing as artificial intelligence. I believe they’re complex compound algorithms, but intelligence is human. And algorithms, not human. Now it’s an instrument that can do a tremendous amount of good and can do things at warp speed faster than we can, and so the question becomes what should algorithms be given to do and what things should they not be given to do?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 12:56     

What things should be left to humans? If you have an algorithm making a decision in divorce court, who’s going to have the kids, the mom or the dad? I don’t want AI to make that decision. We need a human being who can consider human experience, right? That’s just one example of where algorithms really shouldn’t go on in the church’s opinion. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 13:17

I see the slippery slope. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 13:19

It’s not that algorithms couldn’t propose something and say, well, based on all the data this, it’s almost like having Spock in the room, right?  Spock says this and now all of human history says boom, boom, based on all these experiences, but now you have to consider the circumstances and the situation here and make the decision

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 13:37

And to make that point a little more relevance, Spock wasn’t human. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute:  13:47    

So one thing AI cannot do is make a moral decision. Human beings make moral decisions because only human beings are persons, integrated bodies and souls. As much as we can create something, we don’t really create bodies that we give life to. We participate in that creative process, but there are many people trying to have a child who can’t have a child no matter how much they try. So there’s something beyond us that involves the generation of life. Even if we are participants in the process. And this is a vital point when it comes to understanding what it means to be human, that we are beings that have a certain level of transcendence about us, where mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual, and those are dynamics that AI really cannot mimic and duplicate in the integrated way that a human being is.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 14:38    

Listen, we’ve only got a few minutes left. What I’d like to do is for you to take us out with something for that that helped make us better people and understand what it is we’re getting into in this next evolutionary, we’ll call it the industrial revolution of a technology. I know you have a few things that you want to get out. So why don’t you do it.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 14:59     

Well, no, I appreciate that. I think first and foremost we have to remember that in any decision when we’re looking at technology and its impacts, we have to look at the individual and what’s reflective of the dignity of the human person. If technology is being implemented that does not respect the dignity of the human person, it shouldn’t be implemented. And it’s a fundamental ethical decision point for any company. If this is violating the dignity of the human person, we should not move it forward. And so there’s also the next level of how does this impact relationships because we’re not living isolated. Now many times technology leads us to be isolated. You have people who are glued to their computers and don’t go outside for hours and hours and hours in a day and they never see another human being. And they’re living in virtual relationships, which really when you get to the bottom of it are not authentically true, fully communal relationships that are encounter relationships. It’s easy to hide behind an avatar. It’s easy to hide behind a common thread and change your identity online and fake this and fake that. But authentic human encounter, that’s something that has to be experienced face to face. And human beings when they lose that, they lose a certain part of their humanity. And so if a technology is going to put that at risk measures need to be taken to safeguard from that risk. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 16:08    

You know, to your point, I know right now there’s a big debate going on regarding reputation and trust in the online marketplace. It’s a big concern because we have rating systems that will give an individual a four star, five star rating based upon a short period of time of their life and based upon the interaction they have with that platform and we make decisions whether we want that person to come into our home eliminating the human interaction process, whether that feels right or not. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 17:03     

And that’s also making a very rash judgment call of our person. A person is worth a certain number of stars, is reducing the person to a product. And that’s a very dangerous place to go because what if you see a person who has got 2000 reviews in my average has a 1.2, that person has very low self-esteem at that point. And he goes, well, if I’m going to base my life identity on that, why don’t I off myself because I’m not worth anything to the vast majority of people who are seeing me. And that of course can then be corrupted and manipulated online. You’d get somebody in there who is more maleficent and that is going to be a big risk there. But certainly already the question of rating a human being based on limited human experiences. First of all, this is where Pope Francis says, who am I to judge? So there, there involves a certain judgment call on a person as a thing, as a product that already is problematic. And it would be different to say this person’s services in this particular sector, we rate this person’s delivery of services this way. That’s very different because that’s looking at an element of a thing that’s provided by the person, but not matching the person’s identity with that thing. And that’s a refined difference that I think is a very important when anthropologically.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 18:18    

You know, I don’t want to go, I know we’re going down a different topic, but this is so interesting and I just have to be pervy to kind of what’s happening on this side of things. On a regulatory side, you know, there’s another side of the coin which is that people can hide behind those ratings. Do things because they have inflated a rating and find their infiltrate you know, it homes and those sorts of things. Because they’ve established a layer of trust that doesn’t really exist. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 18:47     

That’s right. They become actors who can hide behind a persona that they’ve created a digital persona, ratings persona. But then behind the scenes, if you really knew this person in this relationship or if you really need, I mean the family dynamic be very different than what the rating is online. It ultimately leads people to live a bifurcated life or a life that’s almost like two faced or multiple faced.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 19:09    

Or are they in order allowed them to facilitate the technology facilitates 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 19:15

Living in a virtual state versus a real state.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 19:17

Or to do negative things. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 19:19

Exactly. It comes in an enabler for bad decision making. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 19:22

So how does online marketplaces solve this problem? You know is it by trip creating maybe a little more transparency on who they are? Like who is on the other side of that computer?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 19:35     

Certainly, transparency is a certain benefit because people need in any kind of exchange to know with whom they’re exchanging. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 19:46    

Otherwise you can’t make it proper because they really can’t make a proper decision. Right. And if a company were to do that vetting for them and not give them a transparency, this is kind of where the ethics ethical problem arises.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 19:53     

Right. And so there always need to be those fundamental truths of respecting justice and honesty, truth, the values that really unite human beings is what are considered goods for man. And that if at a social level, the technology as well, certainly if it’s violating the human person.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 20:14    

It strips away the humanity. And so, yeah, I mean, and there’s a couple of different ways of looking at it and, you know, I can tell you there is, there’s debate right now on current rating systems and transparency and everything going on, privacy is becoming a bit of an issue because those laws were rewritten today. They’d look much different than they were, you know, 20-30 years. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 20:34

We see what’s happening in Europe just in the past couple of years where the privacy, the GDPR, which is probably the more advanced, the privacy laws out there right now.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 20:56    

It is much more advanced. But at the same time as it stuff’s happening, that same people that those laws are trying to protect, the individuals are freely giving other data away. So then we start getting to who’s on the other side of that computer, right? Who’s on your side of that rating? Then we start getting into potentially a conflict. And you know, this has been really interesting. I think if anything, I think the, the moral aspect of whether it strips away your humanity does, does the fundamental piece of that technology strip away humanity. And, and I think as a baseline, that’s a pretty, that’s a pretty interesting, that’s, uh, I gotta tell you it’s pretty, it’s fairly solid. I made this from and I’m a technologist. Uh, I don’t know if the words that she used solid, but I find that interesting.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 21:29     

And hopefully that will be a way that any culture coming to the debate would be able to come to that and say, well, that is a fundamental value that we are human too. And to be able to defend that.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 21:40    

If you forced me to make a decision by that rating, you’re stripping away my ability to figure who that person is from. It makes me to make a human decision based on what’s good for me.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 21:51    

That actually solves that. The answer’s a debate that’s going on right now and I appreciate that. I’m bringing this full circle to Humanity 2.0. We moved into the next segment so they have some amazing things and initiatives that are in the pipeline right now. Matthew is an incredible individual and his partner as well as they’re smart, smart guys. What are your hopes for them?

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 22:22     

Well, I think one thing that is, I see tremendous potential with Humanity 2.0 is to bring forward a number of initiatives that can help everybody tune into the same channel, if you will. Just like these panels and presentations yesterday have done, they help people to focus on, okay, this is one issue that everybody can get behind. You know, you’re dealing with helping the built environment in maternal care.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 22:49     

Something that resounds culture to culture, to culture and it creates action points that can be collaborated on so that you, you have a true cooperation. You have people really sharing and a common duty, which is what communication is communals – “Munos” is in the old Latin duty obligation, a common purpose. And so when you’re sharing together in a common purpose and a common project, whether it’s education in the Institute of business ethics, you are building communion between people. And as there there’s a solidarity among the numbers that comes about through a building, an interpersonal communion, which is right out of the book of John Paul the second.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 23:36    

I’m in the communication industry. I had never really connected that fundamentally the essence of it. 

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 23:43     

And so everything, whether it’s you and I are together in a conversation or our team here taking care of the video and the audio. There’s a common labor, there’s a common duty and common work, a common purpose. And curiously enough gift is another meaning of Munos. So there’s a common exchange of the gifts and talents that a person has they can give to the greater good. And so through this common offering, another meaning of Munos is offering that every person can come with his or her personal worth. Everybody has some work to give. Everybody has a purpose. Nobody is worthless. Nobody is meaningless. Everybody has a way to contribute. And through that collaboration, through that communication, ultimately then the human race can really become more human by living according to how God designed us to be. 

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 24:47    

Do you know what, being more humans, human helping humanity. I think let’s leave it on that note. I’d love the next time I’m back here in Rome, I’d love to have you come back on the show if that’s okay. This was terrific and it was a special for me. Thanks so much Father Gregory Gresko, a professor of theology here in Rome. Actually do you want to tell them a little about where can they go and look up some of the stuff that you do and you teach.

Fr. Greg Gresko, Prof. of Moral Theology, Pontifical Oriental Institute: 25:10     

Sure. You can go to it’s is the Latin word for Anselm institution of Anselm, if you will.

Matt Bird – Show Host, Traders Network Show: 25:25    

I wouldn’t be able to say to that but listen, I appreciate it. So til next time, this is pretty much concluding our coverage. We have two more guests, Matthew Sanders himself and then a special one on one with Sheridan and we get to reflect on our last few days of interviews and media coverage from behind the scenes. So until next time, you’re watching Traders Network Show. Don’t go away. We do have a couple of more interviews. We’ll be right back. 

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