Watch this deepfake of Nixon announcing Apollo 11 disaster (that never happened)

A Science Enthusiast Staff

MIT created this disturbing video of President Nixon to show how convincing ‘deepfakes’ can be.

The video you're about to watch never actually happened.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took over 6 months to create the 7 minute video of Nixon delivering a speech as though Apollo 11 had catastrophic results.

  • The video shows real NASA footage paired with the president’s speech: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon [astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin] to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace,” Nixon says in the speech, written by speechwriter William Safire.
  • The reality was a safe moon landing on July 20, 1969, and a safe return to Earth.
  • Experts with MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality launched this project, entitled “In Event of Moon Disaster,” which intended to demonstrate the dangerous influence of ‘deepfake’ videos.

“In Event of Moon Disaster is an immersive art project inviting you into an alternative history, asking us all to consider how new technologies can bend, redirect and obfuscate the truth around us,” the creators wrote.

  • This alternative history reveals the influence of misinformation in today’s world.
  • The experts used artificial intelligence technology called “deep-learning” to mimic Nixon’s voice and facial movements.
  • The project began as an art installation, and has since won several awards.

The pervasive impact of deepfake videos is further explored in the Radiolab podcast.

Note a complicated instance involving the "president" of Gabon, Ali Bongo, who may have had a deepfake made to mislead the public about a severe health condition.

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