July 20 (UPI) -- Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched a website that uses a video of Richard Nixon giving a speech he never delivered to educate the public about the challenges posed by such "deepfakes."
The researchers at MIT's Center for Advanced Virtuality said they spent a year and a half creating the video of President Nixon delivering the real contingency speech that was written in 1969 to be delivered in the event of a disaster during the Apollo 11 moon landing mission.
The "In The Event of Moon Disaster" video is known as a "complete deepfake," meaning the creators manipulated both video and audio to create the illusion that Nixon had actually delivered the speech on camera.
The Nixon video now forms the centerpiece of the Center for Advanced Virtuality's website, moondisaster.org, which aims to educate the public about the existence of technology that can create realistic videos of fictional scenarios.
"Media misinformation is a longstanding phenomenon, but, exacerbated by deepfake technologies and the ease of disseminating content online, it's become a crucial issue of our time," said D. Fox Harrell, professor of digital media and of artificial intelligence at MIT and director of the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality.
Francesca Panetta, the team's creative director, said the aim is to educate the public about deepfakes and encourage media consumers to more carefully consider the legitimacy of what they see and hear.
"This alternative history shows how new technologies can obfuscate the truth around us, encouraging our audience to think carefully about the media they encounter daily," Panetta said.