Team effort needed to fight 'truth decay'

19 September 2023

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell examined the impacts of five major disruptions – strategic, economic, diplomatic, climatic and informatic – on our ability to deter conflict, in an address at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Disruption and Deterrence conference on September 14.

We are living in an increasingly post-truth world where perceptions and emotions often trump facts, and this “truth decay” is largely driven by emerging technological disruptions, according to Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell.

He said the emergence of AI-enabled deepfakes was further complicating our ability to perceive reality and know truth, and there may soon come a time when it is impossible for the average person to distinguish fact from fiction.

The Three Warfares approach of the People’s Liberation Army – comprising psychological, media and legal operations – sought to “win without fighting”.

While these were not new phenomena, informatic disruption was exponentially, instantaneously and globally enhancing the prevalence and effectiveness of a Three Warfares approach by any reasonably sophisticated practitioner.

“Such an approach may bypass the need for a physical attack and strike directly at the psychological, changing perceptions of reality, with profound implications for deterrence,” General Campbell said.

Acknowledging the relatively modest size of Australia’s military force, General Campbell said deterrence in this age of mass disruption would be a team effort – one that required a deliberate, integrated and collective response.

“Australia has never fought alone, and we never want to fight alone,” he said.

General Campbell also used his address to reiterate the challenges posed by climate change to national security, saying a hotter environment with more frequent and intense climate events would be the norm.

“This disruption is happening faster and less predictably than we all hoped. Without the global momentum needed, we may all be humbled by a planet made angry by our collective neglect,” he said.

Download General Campbell's speech for more information.




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