The University of Jaén (UJA) leads the Dynamization Network of activities in Natural Language Processing technologies (PLN.NET), formed by a total of 13 research groups from different Spanish universities, whose main objective is to create communication forums between researchers from the Natural Language Processing (PLN), in which to reach meeting points in the process of standardization of their services and coordination among the community PLN Spanish.

The network ‘PLN.NET’Is coordinated by the Professor of Computer Languages ​​and Systems at the University of Jaén, Mª Teresa Martín Valdivia, and has the participation of other researchers from the SINAI group (Intelligent Information Access Systems) of the UJA clike the professor L. Alfonso Ureña. “The PLN is a field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and linguistics whose origin dates back to the 1950s, whose aim is to make computers capable of communicating with humans through language in the same way that human beings do. people ”, he explains Mª Teresa Martín Valdivia. “This ambitious goal, which originally had the sole goal of achieving effective communication between humans and machines, has derived over time to other challenges, which are more related to the ability to process and understand the large volumes of Digitized textual information existing today ”, he points out.

Thanks to these new technologies, the process of transforming information into knowledge is facilitated, a basic requirement for the society and industry of the 21st century, which, on the one hand, cannot live outside the already existing knowledge in libraries, newspaper libraries , forums, social networks and specialized Internet pages and, on the other hand, lack the human manual mechanisms to cover the huge volume of documentary that must be analyzed. “This context has motivated that today the technologies of PLN They are arousing great interest among the scientific community, not only because of the upturn we are experiencing in AI-related techniques (such as deep learning, dialogue systems …), but also because of the potential of applications of the PLN in today’s society “, argues the researcher of the UJA.

Among the different applications of PLN solutions that benefit a multitude of industrial and business sectors of a very different nature stand out, demonstrating the versatility and potential of PLN for today’s society and that of the future. Thus, the same techniques and developments of PLN They can be integrated in different contexts ranging from the medical sector to the tourism sector, as well as the education, journalism or everything related to social media. “For example, information retrieval, extraction and classification techniques can be used to obtain knowledge from electronic medical records; to determine the opinions of users about a place, hotel, service or product; or even to detect false news or hate speech on social networks, among others ”, lists Mª Teresa Martín Valdivia.

In this sense, among the main activities that the PLN.NET network there is the consolidation of a set of predoctoral activities such as the doctoral symposium, the student mentoring program, and the recognition of the best novel research works. At the same time, research in Language Technologies will be promoted, attracting the interest of companies and new researchers, as well as the creation of collaboration and integration ties between the members of the Network and the other agents in order to lead research in this area not only nationally but also internationally.

Another medium-term objective is to promote R + D + i actions and contribute to the advancement of knowledge of the PLN in Spain, which enjoys a very active participation from companies, universities and other specialized R&D centers, caused by two fundamental currents. As it develops Mª Teresa Martín Valdivia, on the one hand, one of a universal nature that demands increasing technological transfer of PLN and that it is fostered by the own needs of potential consumers: the industry, institutions and users in general ”. On the other hand, “another current, supported by the strategic role of the Spanish language, the 3rd in the world most used on the Internet, the 2nd with the highest number of native users, the 2nd in use of social networks, and the 1st in projection; and for the multilingual reality of the State through its co-official languages, which makes the transformation of multilingual information into a unique canonical form of knowledge especially interesting ”.

The PLN.NET network has been funded by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities within the 2018 call of the Actions to Dynamize Research Networks. Besides the Jaen University, counts as members with the University of Alicante, UNED, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, University of Seville, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Pompeu Fabra University, Carlos III University, University of the Basque Country, University of Barcelona, ​​Complutense University of Madrid and University of Murcia.

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