Australia’s Defence Chief Flags Concerns Over AI-Driven Disinformation
In a recent address to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Australia’s Chief of Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, highlighted the growing threats to Western democracies from the misuse of artificial intelligence (AI) in spreading disinformation.
General Campbell specifically singled out Russia, emphasizing its use of disinformation as a potent tool in statecraft. “We are in an era where information and, unfortunately, misinformation are more accessible than ever,” stated General Campbell during the ASPI event on 14th September, as covered by The Guardian. He noted, “While we take pride in our open, diverse, and liberal society, it also leaves us vulnerable.”
He underscored the importance of a well-informed public for thriving democracies. “A post-truth era, where emotions often overshadow facts, can be detrimental to informed decision-making,” Campbell added.
Reflecting on the past, General Campbell spoke of Russia’s disinformation tactics during the Cold War, aimed primarily at the US and its allies. He drew parallels between those strategies and the contemporary methods being employed to influence Western perceptions, referencing events like the Brexit vote and the 2016 US elections as examples of Russian interference.
The distinction, he noted, between past and present campaigns lies in the modern tools and technologies employed by the Russian Federation. “Utilizing AI-driven methods such as bots, troll farms, and fabricated online identities, they’ve managed to fuel mistrust, create divisions, and erode confidence in key democratic institutions,” he remarked.
General Campbell also touched upon the evolving menace of AI-generated deepfakes, suggesting a foreseeable future where “distinguishing reality from fabrication becomes an everyday challenge.”
“This technological trajectory can expedite the erosion of collective public discernment, posing significant threats to public trust in leadership and the cohesive fabric of our societies,” he warned.
Furthermore, he acknowledged China’s readiness to deploy disinformation tactics, emphasizing their approach as a method for achieving victory without direct confrontation. “The most sophisticated strategies aiming to ‘win without confrontation’ are evident in non-Western entities, notably in the People’s Liberation Army with its comprehensive Three Warfares strategy,” Campbell concluded.