In a special edition of the DisrupTV series, Mr. Vala Afshar and Mr. R “Ray” Wang hosted Dr. David Bray, Director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, alongside two GeoTech Center Fellows: former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, and Mrs. Lucy Turnbull, former Lord Mayor of Sydney.
In a far-reaching discussion, Dr. Bray, Prime Minister Turnbull, and Mrs. Turnbull discussed key issues facing Australia in its relationship with China and the United States, particularly relating to technology policy. As one of the most multicultural societies in the world, Australia recognizes the immense resources provided by its diversity. At home and abroad, Australian leaders like Prime Minister Turnbull and Mrs. Turnbull work tirelessly to promote stronger international connections and, where possible, to bridge divides using Australia as a deal broker.
Prime Minister Turnbull emphasized that Australia’s multicultural harmony, even in an age of digital disruption, is indeed an accomplishment to be celebrated but not a cause for complacency. Rather, those sharing values with Australia must create a more just world, where everyone can benefit from peaceful collaboration. Mrs. Turnbull highlighted how Sydney’s status as a truly global city can serve as a model to other increasingly diverse cities and nations struggling with cultural clashes. As such, Australia seeks to continue to facilitate collaboration between its allies in the West and its partners in the Asia-Pacific even as tension grows on the international stage.
Australia, of course, has faced many of the same technological challenges the rest of the world has in the digital age, particularly in media and misinformation. Throughout his term, Prime Minister Turnbull watched trust in digital institutions and infrastructure erode immensely in an increasingly complex and polarized technology- and data-sphere. He has watched the evolution of our digital media landscape, in which misinformation spreads rapidly and echo chambers allow individuals to hear only views they agree with.
Prime Minister Turnbull emphasized how dangerous this environment is for societies and the world, calling on individuals, governments, and companies alike to work together to combat digital manipulation and return to civil discourse as an end what he called the “age of bullies.” Mrs. Turnbull also elaborated on how violent language over social media presents a serious danger of translating into physical violence, particularly in the context of domestic violence and violence against women. Virulent trolling and the abuse of women online, she confirmed, have a very real impact on women’s willingness to participate in public conversations, as well as women’s sense of safety in public settings.
The GeoTech Center looks forward to future collaboration with Prime Minister and Mrs. Turnbull as it welcomes both esteemed individuals as Fellows. Watch the full video for more insight from these global leaders.