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Australia’s Defence Chief Warns Over AI’s Role in ‘Truth Decay’

Speaking at the Disruption and Deterrence: The 2023 Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Conference in Canberra, Australia’s Defence Force Chief, General Angus Campbell, has raised concerns about the potential of artificial intelligence to erode the distinction between truth and falsehood, a phenomenon he termed “truth decay.”

General Campbell highlighted the increasing use of disinformation as a strategic tool, especially during heightened tensions among global powers. He remarked, “This technological future might fast-track truth decay, posing significant challenges to our collective understanding and eroding public trust in elected representatives.”

General Campbell emphasized the vulnerabilities of open societies like Australia, stating, “We take pride in our open, diverse, and liberal values, but this also leaves us susceptible.”

Deepfakes, AI-generated realistic images or videos, were of particular concern to the Defence Chief. He noted the profound implications these have on people’s perception of reality. The General warned of a potential future where distinguishing between reality and fabrication becomes an insurmountable challenge for the average individual.

To counteract the spread of disinformation, General Campbell stressed the importance of fostering critical thinking skills among Australians. He also highlighted certain nations’ strategies to achieve their objectives without direct conflict, singling out China’s approach. “It’s undeniable that the most sophisticated doctrinal strategies aiming to achieve victory without warfare are seen in non-western entities, especially the People’s Liberation Army,” he commented.

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For 30+ years, I've been committed to protecting people, businesses, and the environment from the physical harm caused by cyber-kinetic threats, blending cybersecurity strategies and resilience and safety measures. Lately, my worries have grown due to the rapid, complex advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Having observed AI's progression for two decades and penned a book on its future, I see it as a unique and escalating threat, especially when applied to military systems, disinformation, or integrated into critical infrastructure like 5G networks or smart grids. More about me, and about Defence.AI.

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