There’s a deepfake that shows US prez Nixon announcing a tragic end to Apollo 11 that never happened
There’s a video doing the rounds online that shows US president Richard Nixon making an announcement to explain that the Apollo 11 mission ended in a tragedy.
Well, it didn’t. And the video in question is one that has been created with ‘deepfake’ technology and published just in time for the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.
The then-president Richard Nixon is seen in the video telling the nation that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
This video is a part of a digital storytelling project called “In The Event of Moon Disaster” created by the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality and uses deepfake tech to show the president talking about a national tragedy that actually never happened. In this world and this timeline at least. The Apollo 11 mission was a success and both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned safely.
Media artists Francesca Panetta and Halsey Bergund from MIT worked with AI companies Canny AI and Respeecher to create this Nixon deepfake. The speech that has been used in the video though is a real one that was penned as a contingency plan in case the mission did not go as planned. Written by Nixon’s speechwriter William Safire, the speech was titled “In The Event of Moon Disaster”. Obviously, Nixon never had to use that speech.
The “In The Event of Moon Disaster” video premiered in November 2019 and was circulated again during the moon landing’s 51st anniversary after MIT’s digital storytelling project’s website launched.
Launched on the 51st anniversary of the #MoonLanding, @MITVirtuality's @deepfakemoon project rewrites history to illustrate the dangers of #deepfake technology and raise public awareness of misinformation in media. Read more: https://t.co/0FOs0Vnuq9— MIT Open Learning (@mitopenlearning) July 20, 2020
The website brings together a number of resources surrounding the film including a documentary from Scientific American’s Jeffrey DelViscio where he’s seen presenting the film to AI, digital privacy, law and human rights experts to give a context of the technology that’s been used to create it.
The video has primarily been made to show the danger of deepfakes. In case you did not know, Deepfakes are AI-manipulated videos that can make subjects in the video say or do things that have never happened. Deepfakes gained notoriety when people started using the tech to paste faces of celebrities into sex videos. However, lately, it has been used to manipulate political and historical events.