As Apollo 11 prepared to land on the moon in 1969, there was always a possibility for failure. That’s why President Richard Nixon’s speechwriter, William Safire, penned the infamous “In Event of Moon Disaster” speech two days earlier on July 18, 1969.
It was to be given in the event that the lunar landing mission went awry, and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin found themselves stranded there, never to return.
“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace…”
Luckily, Nixon never had to give that speech. But now that we live in the age of deepfakes, researchers at the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality have created a somewhat unsettling video of what it may have been like if history had taken a different turn.
The deepfake can be seen in their short film In Event Of Moon Disaster.
As MIT News explains, their team used a variety of techniques to create the deepfake. They “worked with a voice actor and a company called Respeecher to produce the synthetic speech using deep learning techniques. They also worked with the company Canny AI to use video dialogue replacement techniques to study and replicate the movement of Nixon’s mouth and lips.”
Scientific American has a full write-up and video documenting the entire creation of the deepfake, as well.
As compelling as the subject matter is, however, MIT’s actual goal was to highlight the “dangers” of “digitally manipulated video” and misinformation. Deepfakes are already impressive (though certainly not perfect), and they’re concerned with how this technology may be used in the future to deceive or “twist our digital reality.”