Richard Nixon. Oliver F. Atkins, 1971.
“Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace,” said Nixon in 1969. Or is that in 2019? The nightmare scenario we warned against, back in August 2018, has materialized (Putting words in people’s mouths, Supasorn Suwajanakorn, Steven M. Seitz, Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, “Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lip Sync from Audio.”) Researchers at the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality teamed up with Respeecher, a Ukrainian company, and Israel’s Canny AI, to match up pre-recorded clips with deepfake videos to show the president’s mouth moving in perfect sync with synthetic audio. The six-minute video debuted last week at the International Film Festival Amsterdam, where participants sat in a 1,960s-era living room and watched the president deliver the ghost speech on TV. The video simultaneously shows the dangerous power of deepfake technology, that can put words into the mouths of powerful leaders, and its potential as a force for good: Lyrebird, a company that creates digital voices that mimic actual speakers, is cloning the voices of people with ALS in order to allow them to continue communicating once they can no longer speak (Project Revoice).
⇨ YouTube, “In Event of Moon Disaster - Nixon Deepfake Clips.”
⇨ Axios, Kaveh Waddell, “In a deepfake, Nixon laments a catastrophe that wasn’t.”