Defense chief Angus Campbell warns of deepfakes and AI will drive era of ‘truth decay’

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Defense chiefs have warned that the world is entering an era of “truth decay” where misinformation will undermine democracy and leave liberal, Western societies like Australia increasingly exposed to enemies.

General Angus Campbell outlines the challenges of a future where rapidly advancing technology may soon make it impossible for most people to distinguish fact from fiction.

In speeches overnight, defense chiefs predicted artificial intelligence and deepfakes would further damage public trust in elected officials and pose a serious threat.

“Because this technology is maturing so quickly, there may soon be a time when it is impossible for the average person to distinguish fact from fiction, and although the technology’s response can be expected, first impressions are often the most powerful,” he said. Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

“This technological future could increase the erosion of truth, greatly challenge the quality of what we call public ‘common sense,’ seriously damage public trust in elected officials, and erode the trust we owe.”

General Campbell cited a “deeply fake” video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which falsely depicted the wartime leader urging his troops to surrender to invading Russian forces.

“Uncertainty undermines our traditional understanding of deterrence by undermining our ability, certainty of credibility, and clarity of communication,” declared General Campbell.

“Uncertainty is the bed of cowardice, a perfect foundation from which others can win without a fight,” he added.

General Campbell nominated China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as an expert proponent of psychological, legal and information warfare techniques that could disrupt democratic societies and reduce their will to fight.

“These operations, while not, of course, a new phenomenon, informational disruption is accelerating the spread and effectiveness of the three-war approach by any reasonably sophisticated practitioner at a rapid, immediate and global scale,” he said.

“Such an approach may avoid the need for physical attack and strike directly at a psychological, altered sense of reality, with profound implications for prevention.”

Campbell warns of the effects of climate change

During his speech, General Campbell warned of future crises related to food and water security, as well as waves of migration due to climate change.

“This disruption is happening faster and less predictably than we all expected,” General Campbell told his Canberra audience.

“While there is no need for global momentum, we can all be humbled by a planet enraged by our collective neglect.”

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