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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

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

41 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Russia President Vladimir Putin confers with defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."