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In a clip from a stunning new AI-manipulated video, President Nixon delivers a somber speech he never gave in real life, appearing to eulogize American astronauts left on the moon to die.

Why it matters: The video simultaneously shows the dangerous power of deepfake technology that can put words into the mouths of powerful leaders — and its potential to expand the boundaries of art.

What's happening: The video explores an alternate reality in which the Apollo 11 lander failed, stranding astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

  • In it, Nixon read the now-famous words that were written for him in 1969, but that he never said on TV: "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace."
  • The two-minute excerpt above comes from a six-minute video that debuted last week at the International Film Festival Amsterdam. There, participants sat in a 1960s-era living room and watched the president deliver the ghost speech on TV.

How it works: Researchers at the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality recorded clips from a voice actor impersonating Nixon and produced AI-generated speech using technology from Respeecher, a Ukrainian company. The deepfake video, in which the president's mouth and face moves in perfect sync with the synthetic audio, was created by Israel's Canny AI.

What they're saying: “We hope that our work will spark critical awareness among the public," said Francesca Panetta, the project's director. "We want them to be alert to what is possible with today’s technology, to explore their own susceptibility, and to be ready to question what they see and hear as we enter a future fraught with challenges over the question of truth.”

Go deeper: A group of companies are trying to deploy deepfakes as a force for good

Go deeper

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry waves as he arrives at the Elysee Presidential Palace on March 10, 2021 in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden speaking with reporters after leaving his cart following his first round of golf as president at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."