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Reactions: the Prime Minister announces the design of a foundational model of an artificial intelligence language trained in Spanish

The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced last night at the welcome dinner of the GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2024, the construction of a foundational model of artificial intelligence language, trained in Spanish and co-official languages, in open and transparent code, and with the intention of incorporating Latin American countries. For its development, the Government will work with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the Spanish Supercomputing Network, together with the Spanish Academy of Language and the Association of Spanish Language Academies.

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Reactions: language babies hear in the womb shapes their brains

Babies' brains specialise in their native language from pregnancy, according to a study carried out in France. The research team used encephalograms to measure the brain activity of 33 infants born to French-speaking mothers while listening to a story in French, English or Spanish. The results provide "the most compelling evidence to date that language experience already shapes the functional organization of the infant brain, even before birth," the authors write in Science Advances.

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Reactions: a mathematical model analyses what allows different languages to coexist

A study led by the University of the Balearic Islands proposes a mathematical model to understand quantitatively the impact of ideologies on the coexistence of various languages. The more groups of people with different linguistic preferences mix, the more challenging it becomes for different languages to coexist within the same society, say the authors, whose study is published in the scientific journal Chaos. The team says this model could be useful to design policies aimed at preserving minority languages.

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Reaction to an interface capable of reconstructing long sentences from brain images

A US team has developed a non-invasive language decoder: a brain-computer interface that aims to reconstruct whole sentences from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This is not the first attempt to create such a decoder; some of the existing ones are invasive - requiring neurosurgery; others are non-invasive, but only identify words or short phrases. In this case, as reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the team recorded brain responses - captured with fMRI - of three participants as they listened to 16 hours of stories. The authors used this data to train the model, which was then able to decode other fMRI data from the same person listening to new stories. The team argues that the model trained on one person's data does not decode another person's data well, suggesting that cooperation from the subject is required for the model to work properly.

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Reaction to study looking at neurodevelopment of children born in first year of pandemic

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Network Open examines whether there is an association between newborn exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and impaired neurodevelopment compared to those born before the pandemic. Neurodevelopment in the first year of life was not modified by being born or growing up during the covid-19 pandemic or by gestational exposure to SARS-CoV-2. However, the authors appreciated that, regardless of whether maternal infection was present, the pandemic was associated with a risk of delayed communication in these infants.

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Reactions to artificial intelligence linguistic analysis showing that the term 'people' is biased towards 'men'

A study of more than 630 billion words (mostly in English) used on 3 billion web pages concludes that the term 'people' is not gender-neutral: its meaning is biased towards the concept 'men'. The authors write in Science Advances that they see this as "a fundamental bias in the collective view of our species", relevant because the concept 'people' is "in almost all societal decisions and policies".

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