This ‘Deepfake’ Of Richard Nixon Talking About Apollo 11 Is Indistinguishable From Reality


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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Researchers rolled out a surprisingly convincing deepfake video Monday showing former President Richard Nixon delivering a speech stating that the Apollo 11 mission was a disaster that led to the deaths of three astronauts.

The 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was a success in space travel that created a landmark moment in NASA history. Experts in artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in an attempt to warn about the dangers of deepfake technology, created a manipulated video showing Nixon breaking the news of the mission’s failure, CNET reported Monday.

“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace,” Nixon says in the video. The artificially rendered Nixon in the video is referring to astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, whose Apollo 11 mission was successful in reality, making them household names for being the first humans to walk on the moon. 

MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality launched the video Monday as part of a project called “In Event of Moon Disaster,” CNET reported Monday. Experts mixed actual NASA footage with so-called deep learning technology to make Nixon’s voice and facial movements sync up with the contents of the speech.

Experts originally presented the Nixon video during an art installation at MIT in 2019, according to the video’s official website.

The speech was crafted at the time of the mission but never delivered. Experts employed a voice actor to read the contingency speech, which can be found in the National Archives, CNET reported.

The project is designed to impress upon people the danger of so-called deepfake videos. (RELATED: Here Are A Handful Of Incredibly Realistic Deepfake Videos Of Zuckerberg And Chris Christie)

Content generated using this model produces lip movements that are synchronized with the audio and exhibit facial expressions such as blinks and other facial tics, MIT Technology Review reported in 2018. The technology can produce moving images from a video still or photograph.

Experts at Canny AI posted a deepfake video on Instagram in June 2019 portraying Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying: “Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”

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