During last month’s Second International Conference on Portuguese and Spanish Languages (CILPE) in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, leading Ibero-American language experts came together to create an action plan to strengthen Spanish and Portuguese in the areas of science, technology, and culture.
Among the conclusions of this conference was the conclusion that thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), in the future, the quality of scientific publications will prevail over the language in which they are originally published.
At the closing of the meeting, the director of the Real Academia Española (REA), Santiago Muñoz Machado, highlighted the need to preserve the Spanish language, especially during this digital revolution and the development of AI. “Unity gives strength to our language and enables us to look to a bright future, like we saw with expansion of the language during the 20th century. These technical developments pose challenges that have a lot in common with hurdles overcome by the REA in the past,” he said.
Given the concern about the changes in the language that may arise with the arrival of AI and “speaking machines,” the director of the REA cited the Spanish Language and AI project, which consists of agreements signed between Spain and the major global technology industries so that the devices not only speak Spanish but also do it correctly. “We have to fulfill this function, as it is part of the regulatory role that the institution has exercised since its creation,” he said.
The director of the Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos (OEI) in Brazil, Raphael Callou, emphasized that CILPE does not end with the conference but that it will be a continuous process, with actions and results that can be analyzed next year at the next conference, in Paraguay. The host of the next CILPE, the secretary of language policies of Paraguay, Ladislaa Alcaraz, greeted everyone in Guarani, the widely spoken Indigenous language of her country.
The OEI’s director of bilingualism, Ana Paula Laborinho, who is also director of the OEI in Portugal, highlighted the importance of promoting multilingualism. “I would like to leave this conference not as general director of bilingualism but as general director of multilingualism, that is what we are, that makes us richer and more plural,” she commented. The last day of the meeting focused on the space currently occupied by the Portuguese and Spanish languages in culture and science. According to data presented, the number of researchers and relevant studies in Portuguese and Spanish is increasing. However, the problem, according to the presenters, is the lack of visibility of these studies due to the hegemony of English in the main scientific media.
“We need to build a production architecture so that our science in Portuguese and Spanish has visibility,” said Gilvan Müller, from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, pointing to measures such as the creation of a network with databases that index publications in both languages and the digital promotion of these studies to create this new scenario for science in both languages.
The participants also analyzed the space of the two languages in the technological scenario. “The role of ethics has been important in inducing responsible artificial intelligence,” commented Helder Coelho, from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, addressing inclusive access to the benefits of language technology.