Australia’s top general warns of ‘truth decay’ under AI future

Australia’s top general has raised serious concerns over how artificial intelligence can be used by hostile nations to further speed up disinformation and disrupt liberal democracies, eroding the ability to deter military conflict.

“This tech future may accelerate truth decay”, General Angus Campbell, chief of Australia’s Defence Forces, said in a rare speech in Canberra on Thursday night at an event hosted by the Australia Strategic Policy Institute think tank.

“As these technologies quickly mature, there may soon come a time when it is impossible for the average person to distinguish fact from fiction”, he said.

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He warned that strategic competitors, including China, could “bypass the need for a physical attack and strike directly at the psychological,” calling for greater education to counter the impact of disinformation.

While the growth of new AI technologies could benefit societies, they also present huge opportunity for opponents to cause irreparable damage, according to Campbell, becoming the latest Western figure to sound the alarm over AI’s capacity to worsen disinformation.

A soldier presses a button on a virtual interface. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Politicians in countries including Australia, the UK and the US have called for greater government oversight of AI development. Australia’s centre-left Labour government is evaluating whether regulation is necessary, with new laws possible before the end of the year.

“Building within us, across our community, that sense of a capacity for critical thinking is the first step in having that engaged and informed public conversation,” Campbell said.


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