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  • Writer's pictureDavid James Connolly

Defence chief warns of a 'truth decay' era driven by AI and deepfakes

Australia's defence chief has warned people will soon struggle to recognise fake messages as artificial intelligence pushes the world into an era of "truth decay." General Angus Campbell has sounded the alarm on misinformation warfare methods being rapidly deployed by regimes such as Russia and China.

In an overnight speech, General Campbell has predicted artificial intelligence and deepfakes will further damage public confidence in elected officials and pose a serious risk. "As these technologies quickly mature, there may soon come a time when it is impossible for the average person to distinguish fact from fiction, and although a tech counter response can be anticipated, the first impression is often the most powerful," he told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). "This tech future may accelerate truth decay, greatly challenging the quality of what we call public 'common sense', seriously damaging public confidence in elected officials, and undermining the trust that binds us."

General Campbell cited a "deep fake" video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which emerged last year falsely portraying the wartime leader urging his military to surrender to invading Russian forces. During his address, General Campbell also warned of future crises involving 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 hoped," General Campbell told his Canberra audience. "Without the global momentum needed, we may all be humbled by a planet made angry by our collective neglect."

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