Elon Musk introduced Grok, an AI chatbot characterized by a "rebellious disposition," drawing inspiration from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The CEO of Tesla, who recently expressed concerns about AI being a significant threat, announced that Grok would become accessible to premium subscribers on his X platform following a testing phase.
Musk further disclosed that Grok could access user-generated content on X, a platform under his ownership, and had a proclivity for delivering sarcastic responses.
Musk shared what appeared to be an illustration of Grok's playful manner by sharing a screenshot of a query directed at the chatbot, requesting a "step-by-step" guide for creating cocaine. The response provided four steps, including "earn a chemistry degree" and "establish a secret laboratory in a distant area."
Nevertheless, the chatbot concludes with a disclaimer: "Just joking! Please refrain from attempting to produce cocaine. It is unlawful, hazardous, and not something I would endorse."
Musk mentioned that Grok, currently in its early testing phase and not accessible to the general public, will eventually become available to subscribers of X's high-tier subscription service, Premium+.
The term "Grok" was originally coined by American science fiction author Robert A Heinlein and, according to the Collins dictionary, signifies "a deep and intuitive understanding."
Grok has been developed by Musk's new AI venture, xAI. The xAI team explained the chatbot's connection to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a beloved science fiction comedy by British author Douglas Adams, in a blog post on the weekend.
"Grok is an AI fashioned after The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, intended to not only provide answers but also to suggest what questions to ask! It's designed to respond with a touch of humor and a hint of rebellion, so it's perfect for those who appreciate a sense of humor."
The xAI team noted that Grok is powered by a substantial language model, Grok-1, which forms the core technology behind AI chatbots. The blog post indicated that Grok-1 outperformed GPT-3.5, the model used in the publicly available version of ChatGPT, on certain metrics like solving middle-school mathematics problems. Nevertheless, xAI acknowledged that it falls short of the most advanced ChatGPT model, GPT-4.
"It is only outperformed by models that underwent training with significantly larger amounts of training data and computing resources, such as GPT-4."
The xAI team announced that Grok is currently available as a prototype for a limited number of users in the United States, with plans to introduce "new capabilities and features" in the upcoming months. According to the Grok website, initial access to the chatbot is offered to X subscribers through an "early access program."
Elon Musk, a co-founder of OpenAI, the organization responsible for ChatGPT, had previously distanced himself from the company in 2018, citing disagreements with the OpenAI team's goals and his commitments to other ventures. Musk had expressed concerns about the rapid advancement of AI, advocating for a temporary pause in the development of powerful AI systems in March.
However, in July, Musk reevaluated the feasibility of a pause and established xAI, with a commitment to building AI systems responsibly.
During an address at the AI safety summit at Bletchley Park, Musk reiterated his concerns about AI's potential threat to humanity, aligning with the anxieties of some experts and tech leaders who worry about AI systems that could operate beyond human control, making decisions that pose risks to humanity.
Musk further predicted that AI, which refers to computer systems capable of performing tasks associated with intelligent beings, would ultimately replace all human jobs. While speaking to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, he remarked, "There will come a point where no job is needed."
Milmo, D. and editor, D.M.G. technology (2023) ‘Elon Musk unveils Grok, an AI chatbot with a “rebellious streak”’, The Guardian, 5 November. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/nov/05/elon-musk-unveils-grok-an-ai-chatbot-with-a-rebellious-streak.