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Decode

What If Taylor Swift Was A Mathematician? This Teacher Shows You How

A high-school teacher from Texas uses AI to teach his students mathematics in Taylor Swift's voice.

By - Titha Ghosh | 12 Jan 2024 11:43 AM GMT

AI is all around us, growing at a pace faster than we can keep up with. The conversations surrounding it, reached their peak when ChatGPT first introduced itself as a replacement for human creativity. Since then, from deep fakes and voice cloning to AI in search engines, we have been overrun with progress.

But what happens when voice cloning allows your favourite pop star to teach calculus? Mr. Schuler, a teacher from Austin, Texas began his journey with the same hope–to encourage his students to find mathematics a little more fun than usual. And what better way than to record and make himself sound like Taylor Swift?

Decode spoke to Mr. Schuler to understand what got him started on this innovative technique of teaching and how he plans to grow his channel in the future.

Mr Schuler has been a teacher for nearly 20 years. “Originally I started making videos for one of my students who was attending school remotely due to health issues. I would simply record the lecture from the day, post it, and send it to her. She was my first subscriber,” he said.

This was a couple of years before COVID and he would upload the videos unedited. During 2020 and 2021, when everyone moved to remote learning, Mr Schuler began filming all his lectures of working through the student's homework so that they had help.

Why Taylor Swift?

“Honestly, I'm not a fan of Taylor Swift's music. I'm more of a heavy metal/rap kind of guy. However, my wife and especially my 6-year-old daughter love Taylor Swift.” Last December, at the end of the semester, Mr Schuler decided to play with some of the AI tools that are out there and put together a “Root-2 video” as a proof-of-concept. To get a reaction out of his daughter, he used Taylor Swift’s voice. “She was super excited to see it. The only downside was seeing her disappointment after I explained that I did not actually meet or talk with TS,” he continued.

However, the video took off way more than he had expected, so he continued to make more AI-assisted videos as a way to improve my abilities. His students got a kick out of the videos and asked for more impersonated celebrity cameos.

What are some of the tools used?

From ‘Kami’ as the whiteboard to Adobe Photoshop, different software are used to make it all come together. For the celebrity voices, Mr Schuler used Elevenlabs. “The accuracy has varied quite a bit based on who I'm trying to emulate, but Taylor Swift’s voice comes out well,” he added.

Alongside these, he uses Midjourney & Leonardo.AI to generate images and Gooey.AI to lip-sync the audio created with Elevenlabs. “For the TS videos, the first one took me just under an hour. However, I've been trying to improve the quality of each video since then, and the most recent one took me about 6 hours from beginning to end.”

What about future plans?

While Mr Schuler admits he would love to grow the YouTube channel, it's not his main goal. “I'm more concerned about creating informative and engaging content for my students to consume and hopefully understand mathematics a little bit better,” he said. In the future, he plans to revisit Taylor Swift’s "character" for a series on Calculus-level. And one will have to watch out for other celebrities and well-known fictional characters teaching math!