The Menéndez Pelayo International University and the Royal Spanish Academy have inaugurated this morning, in Santander, the first Spanish Language and Artificial Intelligence Meeting. Is the Spanish that the machines speak, translate and/or correct correct? How can language help digital development? What is the role of linguists in the era of big data? With these questions the course has started, directed by the director of the RAE, Santiago Muñoz Machado.

The program of the meeting has a unique value: representatives of the academic world, the public sector and the most relevant technology companies in the world are mixed in its program of presentations. Executives from Microsoft, Google, Meta and Telefónica shared this morning a dialogue about their research in the field of language.

Previously, the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, opened the cycle by recalling that the task of teaching the languages ​​of Spain to machines is a strategic priority for her Government, which has launched a Strategic Project for the Recovery and Economic Transformation (PERTE) endowed with 1,100 million euros.

How important is that mission? Alfonso Ureña, president of the Spanish Society for Data Processing, explained in his speech in Santander that natural language is the great field of work that Artificial Intelligence has ahead of it. Robots already know how to operate on cancer, but can they understand their patients when they describe pain? That is the task that is pending.

Alongside Ureña, Mercedes Sánchez, technical manager of the Royal Spanish Academy’s 21st Century Spanish Corpus project, and Marta Guerrero, linguist and coordinator of the Knowledge Engineering Institute, explained how machines are taught to listen and express themselves. In the RAE they collect and classify data, texts and conversations that are like jurisprudence so that the machines do their learning. At the Knowledge Engineering Institute, the work corresponds to a later phase: they have developed Rigoberta, a learning method for Artificial Intelligence to learn to digest linguistic data.

In the next presentations, the elected professor and academic of the RAE Asunción Gómez-Pérez will deal with the work with multilingual data. Already on Thursday, Santiago Muñoz Machado will close the course with a reflection on the moral horizons that are opening before the imminent era of Artificial Intelligence. Will technology serve to emancipate man or will it end up subjugating the free will of the individual? That will also depend on machines understanding the ambiguities of natural language.

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