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Hard Numbers: Faking Taylor, Powering Perplexity, Keying change, Risking extinction, Embracing AI in NY

​Taylor Swift arrives at the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles.

Taylor Swift arrives at the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles.

Cover Media via Reuters

45: It takes just 45 minutes to make “decent-quality video,” according to Siwei Lyu, a computer science professor at the University at Buffalo, in response to news that an artificially generated ad featuring singing superstar Taylor Swift’s face and voice was being used to on social media to promote a fake giveaway for Le Creuset. Swift joins a growing number of celebrities peddling products virtually … and without their knowledge.

520 million: The AI startup Perplexity just raised $74 million from a group of investors, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, valuing the company at $520 million. Perplexity styles itself as a search engine — perhaps a more direct competitor to Google than, say, ChatGPT. “If you can directly answer somebody’s question, nobody needs those 10 blue links,” says Perplexity co-founder Aravind Srinivas.

30: Microsoft is keyed up for change. For the first time in 30 years, its PC keyboards are sporting a new look with the addition of a key for its AI assistant Copilot. You’ll find it located to the right of the space bar.

5: AI prognosticators are obsessed with our own demise at the hands of all-powerful AI. In a survey of 2,700 scientists, more than half put the “extinction rate” — the chance that the advent of artificial intelligence will end the human race — at about 5%.

$275 million: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $275 million public-private partnership to boost AI research in the Empire State. The initiative is called Empire AI, which will see the creation of a “state-of-the-art AI computing center in Upstate New York,” providing remote computing power to AI research projects across the state, including at the many public and private universities funding the project.


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