Stephen Fry skewers 'Little England's' power to go it alone in the face of 'existential threats'

PUBLISHED: 13:45 30 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 30 June 2019

Stephen Fry has bemoaned 'Little England's' chances of going it alone. Picture: BBC

Stephen Fry has bemoaned 'Little England's' chances of going it alone. Picture: BBC

BBC

Stephen Fry has pointed out how astounding it is that the UK is swopping membership of the EU's powerful negotiating bloc for a chance at deals with Trump's America.

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He made the comments in the context of a discussion of the advance of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and the dangers they pose on personal privacy.

"Already people are worried about Facebook and the surveillance economy, and just how much everything we do leaves a digital footprint somewhere," Fry told the BBC's Andrew Marr. "And the greater the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the more these things can be put together to profile us, either by corporate entities or by governmental ones.

He pointed out how hard it will be for the UK to combat this alone, losing the power that the EU has as a bloc to face down attempts to profile people.

"At exactly the time we should most be coming together to face these existential threats - or promises, whichever you call them - is the time we are dividing up," he said. "Whatever one thinks of Brexit, the idea that we leave a group of self-interested [countries], a bloc, to whom we send MPs and we have a council of ministers, we leave that and do a deal with someone whose motto is 'America First'? I mean, what?!

"And the idea that an individual country 'first' - well, ok, it's South Korea first, Russia first, China first, and we can be 'Little England' first - well what have we got to protect us against people who will use robotics and AI for their own ends?"

Watch the interview from 4.20 onwards for Fry's Brexit comments.

The pro-EU actor and writer first talked publicly about his views on Brexit in 2018, putting out a myth-busting video about the EU.

In the video, titled 'Facts vs Fear', Fry pointed out the benefits immigrants bring, and the efforts of the right wing press to demonise then, as well as discussing numerous benefits of EU membership. "Deceptive framing has ... caused false assumptions about the EU," he said.

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