While gripping to watch, In Event of Moon Disaster warns us about the persuasive power of both legacy media and emerging AI technologies. The project signals:

  • How nonfiction footage, when re-edited, can create new, counterfactual meanings.
  • How misleading media frequently draws on credible sources.
  • The ways in which AI-enabled media can make individuals do or say things that they never in fact did or said.
  • How historical phenomena, in addition to events in the present, can easily be the subject of deceptive manipulation.
  • That mass media can be used to sow the seeds of doubt in democratic institutions.

Reference Conspiracy theories about the U.S. faking the moon landing were contemporaneous with the expansive reporting on the Apollo 11 mission. Such theories constituted part of a broader constellation of reactions to the mission and the aftermath. Roger D. Launius, “Responding to Apollo: America’s Divergent Reactions to the Moon Landings,” Limiting Outer Space: Astroculture After Apollo, ed. Alexander C.T. Geppert (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 51-78. Image by Dominic Smith, In Event of Moon Disaster, Halsey Burgund and MIT.

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