In the Event of a Moon Disaster uses AI deep fake and speech synthesis technology to produce a Nixon speech that never happened. Bill Safire wrote a contingency speech on July 18, 1969 for President Richard Nixon to read in the event that something went wrong with the Apollo 11 mission and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were to be stranded on the moon until they would ultimately die.
Immersive audio artists Francesca Panetta and Halsey Burgund were captivated with the speech, and wanted to use the latest in AI technologies to bring it to life. They wanted to raise awareness of how these new technologies fit within a long tradition and spectrum of misinformation and disinformation tools, and so they collaborated with Canny AI on the visuals and the Respeecher on the speech-to-speech synthesis of Nixon’s voice after training thousands of clips with a voice actor.
Watching the experience at IDFA DocLab was a surreal experience as they recreated a 1960s living room with an authentic television from that era to be able to watch footage of a manufactured moon crash and then a completely fabricated and synthetically-created Nixon speech that never actually happened.
I had a chance to talk with the artists Panetta & Burgund about their design process, their deeper intention behind the work, the philosophical implications of being able to modulate truth and reality, and the ethical implications of deep fake and synthetic speech synthesis AI technologies.
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Here’s a brief excerpt of the In the Event of a Moon Disaster Nixon speech.
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