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Science & Technology

MIT deepfakes Nixon's Moon disaster speech

By T.K. Randall
November 25, 2019 · Comment icon 6 comments

How can you believe what you see ? Image Credit: YouTube / Halsey Burgund
An unsettling clip created by researchers at MIT shows Nixon announcing the failure of the Apollo 11 mission.
Remember that time President Richard Nixon sat down in front of the nation and announced that a technical fault had left Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stranded on the Moon ? No ?

Of course that didn't actually happen - both astronauts returned home to Earth safe and well - but a new deepfake video created by researchers at MIT shows what would have happened if they had ended up stranded on the lunar surface.

The footage, which shows Nixon announcing the bad news, looks entirely real but is in fact a clever manipulation created using powerful software.
To produce it, an actor was first recorded for three hours reciting recordings of Nixon word for word to create a perfect synthesis of his voice. The video component was then created by combining parts of two videos - one of Nixon's resignation speech and the other of an actor delivering the Moon speech.

The result, which can be viewed below, is convincing to say the least.

Given that it is now possible to produce almost perfect fake videos of world leaders saying absolutely anything - just how well can we trust what we see and hear in the media ?

Similarly, how can we be sure that historic events happened the way we think they did ?

Source: Interesting Engineering | Comments (6)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Chaldon 4 years ago
"How can we be sure that historic events happened the way we think they did"? Just like with all the historic data we have from before the mass media. There were a plenty of disinformation and fakes, and yet the historians have sorted it out. Just have several sources who have no gain from telling the same fake story, and if they are still telling the same story, then it's obviously a fact. That's the scientific method. Pictures on a screen, whoever they show, are for the masses who would worship a ski pole if emotionally manipulated. Deepfakes will never change facts gained from reliable sour... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by pallidin 4 years ago
To me, this wasn't even remotely convincing. But, given time...
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
You have to trust the messenger, it's always been that way...Even before 'deep fake' tech existed. I trust websites like Snopes, for example.
Comment icon #4 Posted by toast 4 years ago
Comment icon #5 Posted by psyche101 4 years ago
Nixon had backup speeches in case the astronauts were stranded on the moon and for failure in space. This is just a mock up of one of them.
Comment icon #6 Posted by moonman 4 years ago
"how can we believe anything we see"? Because if they really wanted to lie about something, the person in question being filmed would just make a real lie video and be done with it. If it's a fake they don't endorse, they will say as much. The worst thing I can see this tech accomplishing is putting famous people in embarrassing situations they would deny being in - so nothing new really.

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