"Technology always wins." The disturbing phrase is pronounced by the historian of science JI dared Manuel Sánchez Ron, deputy director of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), to refer to the power of the machines that surround us and the computer programs we use daily on our language. For humans to participate in that victory, the SAR, and with it the other 22 sister institutions of the Spanish language worldwide, will launch a project, called Spanish Language and Artificial Intelligence (LEIA), with the that you want to tame the machines. The first step will be taken on Friday, when the representatives of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (Asale), meeting at a congress in Seville, sign an agreement with Telefónica, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google for these giants Technological use the tools available to them and train in a good Spanish, "academic", adds the director of the RAE, Santiago Muñoz Machado, to the machines As Sánchez Ron warns, “in a short time there will be more machines that speak Spanish than Spanish speakers” (today 580 million).
"This project is unprecedented in other languages, nor will it exist in them because Spanish is the only one that has a global regulator, the Asale," says Muñoz Machado, who provides telephone and other answering machines as an example for this initiative. gadgets "to which children have access". "It's a problem whose dimensions we don't know yet." To the one that adds another fight in which the Spanish must be involved with the machines as allies: "We must occupy the space that English has in them, if we do not, we would break the equality between people who have access to know both languages and those that don't. "
How to marry both worlds? "We will make our linguistic resources, dictionaries, consultations on our website available to these companies … they are millions of data," adds Muñoz Machado. The result, he points out, will be that the machines use a unitary Spanish and, at the same time, "have the peculiarities of each zone, its different accents." Muñoz Machado was in charge of informing on Wednesday, for about ten minutes, the other directors, who have supported the project, which will be presented on Friday with the presence of kings Felipe and Letizia. Muñoz Machado advances that several videos made by technology companies will be screened on that day, in which problems such as "machines that are not understood" can be seen.
However, there is another large black hole detected. The director, according to reports provided by Telefónica, recently put the words of the Spanish dictionary that the machines have "eaten". This occurs, for example, when a text editor underlines a word in red because it is considered incorrect, not being so. The user pays attention to the chip, removes it and the program understands that it should not suggest it anymore, it swallows it. A situation corroborated by the journalist Álex Grijelmo: "When experts give you a demonstration of how this works, you are speechless and worried." It is a process that, if it does not stop, “will end up impoverishing and perverting the language,” warns Sánchez Ron. Another workhorse that especially worries Muñoz Machado is that of translators on the Internet.
But, in order not to fall into an outrageous Luddism, it should be stressed that "the resources of artificial intelligence are used" to work with language, says the director. They are the two sides of the technological currency. "The machines and programs help us in tasks such as dictionaries, search engines, to perform the works of the corpus, which are stores of phrases or words." In that line, Muñoz Machado wants the Dictionary, of which the novelties of the 23rd edition are presented on Thursday, expand, from the 93,000 entries that it currently has, to more than 150,000. It's what he calls "breaking the seams of Dictionary"After all, as Sánchez Ron concludes," behind each machine, there is a human mind that created it. "
The five days of the XVI Congress of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (Asale) in Seville has compressed its acts between Wednesday and Thursday. Throughout the week there is a morning program, of an internal nature, only for academics, in which the nearly 200 representatives of the 23 Spanish academies have discussed aspects ranging from lexicography to teacher training for indigenous regions. Projects have also been submitted on a rosary of dictionaries in progress or to be approved: historical, phraseological, pan-Hispanic school, legal, doubts, Americanisms, writers, a proverb … While the commissions have addressed issues such as the American legacy Castro, the “lexicon of the toquilla straw hat”, of the Ecutoriana Academy, or the role of Afro-Bantu literature in Hispanic literature. Afternoons are open to the public with a cultural agenda that includes debates, readings, or a carousel of book presentations, at the rate of 10 minutes per author to promote yourself.
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