Pedro Sánchez "Barcelona and Spain embrace digital transformation as a unique opportunity"

President's News - 2024.2.25

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At the start of the welcome dinner of the 'GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2024', held at the National Art Museum of Catalonia, the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, announced the construction - through public-private partnership - of a large foundational model of artificial intelligence language specifically trained in Spanish and co-official languages. The event, presided over by HM King Felipe VI, was also attended by the Minister for Industry and Tourism, Jordi Hereu, and the Minister for Digital Transformation and Public Function, José Luis Escrivá.

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, receives King Felipe VI, who presides over the welcome dinner of the 'GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2024' | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

In a context in which, for just over a year, chatbots generated by large general-purpose linguistic models have placed artificial intelligence in the spotlight, Pedro Sánchez has stressed the need for a "profound reflection" on the impact of this technology on rights and freedoms, the labour market and the design of public policies. The head of the Executive has assured that the roll out of generative artificial intelligence will be promoted in the productive fabric, the scientific system and in the design of public policies, and has asserted that he aspires for Spain to "play a significant role at an international level in the development of artificial intelligence".

He has therefore announced the construction of this large artificial intelligence language model, trained in Spanish and the co-official languages, in open-source and transparent code. For its development, the Government is going to work in close public-private partnership with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the Spanish Supercomputing Network together with the Spanish Academy of Language and the Association of Spanish Language Academies. It is also planned to extend this initiative to include Latin American countries.

Family photo from the welcome dinner at the 'GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2024' | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Language models require massive corpora of linguistic data, although the percentage of English resources is as high as 90% in many of today's systems. The new initiative, a first at a European level, seeks to provide an open, public and accessible language infrastructure for companies, so that they can have a large-scale language model, trained in Spanish and the co-official languages, which provides services in language technologies so that they can develop advanced applications for their subsequent economic exploitation. For example, intelligent assistants, conversational and dialogue systems or content generation models.

"This is the Spanish path to progress: a path in which digital transformation is used to gain more rights for citizens", explained the president of the Government of Spain, who indicated that the goal is to promote "a dynamic economy that is open to the future, capable of offering a level playing field for companies and generating more and better jobs". This vision guides the roll out of a global strategy for the comprehensive protection of minors and has led Spain, under the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union, to promote a pioneering regulation of artificial intelligence and pioneering initiatives, such as the creation of the first National Agency for Artificial Intelligence Oversight. He added that it also leads to "seeking a balance between the active promotion of a technology full of opportunities and a necessary humanist vision with which to avoid bias and prejudice", with the defence of a global governance of digitalisation in which progress is already being made with the Digital Rights Charter, which is an international benchmark and has been promoted by Spain since 2021.

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during his speech at the welcome dinner of the 'GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2024'. | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

During his speech, Pedro Sánchez praised the new edition of the MWC for the "capacity of Barcelona and Catalonia to attract talent, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit", as well as "to stimulate the most disruptive ideas and to welcome those who promote them". "Barcelona and Spain are embracing digital transformation as a unique opportunity", he emphasised, recalling the important announcements in recent months of investments by large companies in Spain, such as Amazon, Meta, Google, IBM and, more recently, Microsoft.

The head of the Executive has reviewed the milestones achieved in recent years in the country's digital transformation, through five major priorities, which include the boost given to the deployment of fibre optics, with more than 1 billion euros since 2018, placing Spain 35 points above the European Union average, or the closing of the digital divide between rural and urban areas, with access to a high-speed connection for an affordable price of 35 euros.

Strengthening European strategic autonomy through semiconductor production is also a priority, with nearly 1% of Spain's GDP earmarked for the strategic programme for economic recovery and transformation, PERTE chip. The priorities also include digital training, with more than 41,000 vocational training places created in digitalisation, another 10,000 future places in cybersecurity and the promotion of the digital transformation of the business fabric, with 330,000 SMEs benefiting thanks to the Recovery Plan and the launch of the Next Tech fund, with 4 billion euros, to support the growth of technology companies.

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