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Artificial Intelligence Technology

'JFK' finally recites his last speech – 55 years after his death – thanks to AI


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

March 16, 2018 | 3 min read

The Times and creative agency Rothco have used artificial intelligence to put John F. Kennedy's voice to the speech he never got to make on the day of his assassination.


JFK Unsilenced

Thanks to the 'JFK Unsilenced' campaign, which celebrates the late president's legacy in the lead up to the centenary of his birth, the 'lost' Dallas Trade Mart speech can finally be heard 55 years on from his murder.

To make it happen, Accenture agency Rothco analysed recordings of Kennedy's speeches to understand his timbre, tone and quirks to authentically deliver the script as he would likely have done.

831 analogue recordings of JFK speeches and interviews were inserted into the system, whereupon a benchmark was set, from which new speech was synthesized.

An extract from the speech reads: “We in this country, in this generation, are -by destiny rather than choice - the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men’.”

Alan Kelly, executive creative director at Rothco, said: “When we delved into the words JFK had written for the Trade Mart speech, we found they were not only poignant for the time but strikingly relevant today.

"By bringing his voice back to life to deliver this speech, the message is even more powerful: 'We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will “talk sense to the American people.” But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.'”

Rothco, tech company Cereproc and post production firm Screen Scene helped deliver the speech.

You can listen to the full speech on The Times' website here.

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