The week that was: Jumping into the unknown on Mars, Brexit and AI | View

The week that was: Jumping into the unknown on Mars, Brexit and AI | View
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By David Walsh
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

A weekly round-up of the discussions on View that have been driving debate across Europe and further afield.


Welcome to our weekly round-up where we take a look at the hot topics that have had you talking this week. With discussions around the threat of populism to the vilification of EU citizens as “queue jumpers”, we aim to give you a flavour of the opinions here on View that have driven debate across Europe and beyond over the last seven days.

Mars has been a source of wonder and anxiety for generations. Thanks to works such as HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds and Hollywood sci-fi outings like Mars Attacks!, the 'Red Planet' has been seen as a potential home of lifeforms hostile to Earth. But, as David A. Weintraub pointed out this week, the prospect of mankind colonising Mars has moved a step forward with the landing of a NASA probe. Has humanity suddenly turned the tables to become the potential aggressor?

There is no definitive proof that life exists on Mars as yet, but looking closer to home, there are millions of humans who are currently feeling alienated. When Theresa May suggested EU citizens that had come to the UK to make it their home had been “jumping the queue”, she vilified people like Professor Tanja Bueltmann. In her op’ed, she blasts the Prime Minister for failing to note how much these “queue jumpers” have contributed to UK life – and that the same sobriquet should be applied to British nationals living in the EU.

In certain quarters, migrants fleeing violence and persecution for a new life in the EU have also been viewed “queue jumpers,” or people thwarting the proper immigration processes. While the migrant crisis has pushed EU leaders to breaking point and fuelled a wave of populism across the continent that has yet to dissipate, Eli Hadzhieva leads a discussion in her piece this week on how migrants could actually be an opportunity for the EU rather than a headache.

In some ways, Brexit is a lot like NASA’s Mars mission. With all plans now firmly in place, there are many unknowns that could potential derail it. It is a leap into the unknown. But while, in the first instance, NASA has successfully navigated their probe to a successful landing on the planet, Scotland still does not know where it will eventually land in the coming months as Brexit takes shape. Will its leaders accept Theresa May’s deal, roll with the punches with no deal or take a second look at life outside the UK as an independent country?

As MPs prepare to debate and vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the coming weeks, what the future beyond March 2019 will look like is still obscured. Former MP and chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Sir Richard Ottaway believes the UK - in order to be successful after Brexit - needs to follow the example of other European leaders and reconnect with Africa, a burgeoning continent of start-ups and innovators ripe for investment.

While space exploration is a voyage into the unknown, closer to home, the rise of artificial intelligence represents another leap into the void for mankind. Many questions still remain unanswered as to how AI will affect human lives in the future as the fourth industrial revolution takes root. According to Radu Magdin, one thing is for sure if it is not managed properly: it could inflame an already simmering discontent and feed the rising populist movements further.

The threat of populism – and nationalism – is something Europe knows all too well, historically and increasingly more so today. Guy Verhofstadt told View this week that he thinks they are helping to compromise core EU values, particularly in Poland and Hungary. “The nationalist governments in Budapest and Warsaw have been playing with fire for the last couple of years,” he says.

While he is one of the EU’s greatest champions, Verhofstadt’s voice is not the only one decrying the situation in these countries; Hungary in particular. With the news that the Central European University (CEU) plans to move from Budapest to Vienna, former alumnus Rafael Labanino writes with sadness that his country – after all the pain and suffering of its most recent history – is losing such an institution. Of the political forces at work, he opines: “An institution of such quality and broad perspectives, with such a tolerant and diverse community, does not have a place in Orbán’s Hungary.”

Other pieces deserving of your attention this week include a piece by Amnesty International in praise of the wave of courageous women across the continent who are fighting to get their governments to adopt new rape legislation around sexual consent. French MEP Françoise Grossetête also takes the opportunity to rebut a previous View op'ed by the president of the Australian Veterinary Association, arguing that the EU is looking to level the playing field for all farmers over the contentious issue of animal antibiotics rather than penalise farmers outside the EU zone.

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