Elon Musk’s X.AI Reveals Generative AI Chatbot Grok
xAI’s Grok system is designed to have a little humor in its responses pic.twitter.com/WqXxlwI6ef
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2023
Elon Musk’s xAI company has introduced a generative AI chatbot called Grok. The chatbot has a “rebellious streak” that Musk claims was inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books and radio shows, and will be available as a benefit of subscribing to a new Premium level on the social media platform Musk renamed from Twitter to X.
Grok is set up to be both informative and irreverent, according to Musk, with a sarcastic rejection of questions it won’t answer, as opposed to ChatGPT and other chatbots, which simply decline to respond to questions they won’t answer. Whether it will explain why Hitchhiker is cited as the source for its humor even though Grok is a term for understanding invented by writer Robert A. Heinlein for his novel Stranger in a Strange Land isn’t yet apparent. Naming conventions aside, as Voicebot founder Bret Kinsella points out in our Synthedia newsletter, personality is a huge differentiator from Grok’s alternatives.
“This explicit persona-oriented differentiation runs counter to the approach of other Gen AI Assistants, such as ChatGPT and Bard. They explicitly downplay any distinct persona other than that of an efficient, emotionless assistant,” Kinsella explains. “The exception is, once again, Meta. While it has announced the persona-less Meta AI assistant, the company is also rolling out AI Characters that take on the personas of several famous celebrities. Since Meta and X lean more towards consumer use cases, they are betting that persona matters more than for the more business-oriented ChatGPT and Bard.”
One of the standout elements of Grok is that it can provide real-time knowledge of current events by tapping into X and the posts on that platform. By comparison, most generative AI assistants are restricted to static training data, though ChatGPT Plus does have the option of connecting to the internet. Grok is initially limited to U.S. users, and there’s a waiting list those interested can join. As mentioned above, The chatbot will only be available to those who subscribe to the “Premium+” tier on X, a new option that will cost $16 a month through the web or $22 if they sign up through the iOS App Store or Google Play.
The company says Grok is intended to be a powerful research tool for gathering insights and evaluating how to maximize AI’s benefits. The chatbot employs a new large language model (LLM) called Grok-1, a 63-billion-parameter model with an 8,000 data token context window, which translates to about 6,000 words for its short-term memory. The company claims Grok-1 outcompetes many of its potential rivals.
“After announcing xAI, we trained a prototype LLM (Grok-0) with 33 billion parameters. This early model approaches LLaMA 2 (70B) capabilities on standard LM benchmarks but uses only half of its training resources,” xAI explained in a blog post. “In the last two months, we have made significant improvements in reasoning and coding capabilities leading up to Grok-1, a state-of-the-art language model that is significantly more powerful, achieving 63.2% on the HumanEval coding task and 73% on MMLU.”
Grok the Everything App
Musk has long been expected to set up a generative AI rival in the wake of OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT. The X AI firm he launched in July. He purchased around 10,000 graphics processing units (GPUs) for large language model training after taking over and renaming Twitter as X, paying about $10,000 per GPU. Notably, Twitter’s data helped train OpenAI’s models until Musk blocked the company’s access to the data in December. Musk also blamed generative AI models scraping Twitter data when he announced limits on how many tweets people can view.
Whether Grok can shift the conversation of conversational generative AI chatbots so heavily dominated by ChatGPT remains to be seen. There are already several alternatives, like Claude, Bard, Pi, and more, but in the minds of most people interested in the space, ChatGPT remains a kind of default reference point. As Kinsella mentions, the distribution through X and early adoption by those already willing to pay a premium to Musk for other features may accelerate its use. At the same time, justifying the price may be harder for exactly that reason and is part of why he doubts Grok will impact ChatGPT’s success, at least for a while.
“Still, Grok could be wildly successful in terms of X’s strategy,” Kinsella concludes. “X has loyal users that may serve as the incubation base for the product. If X can layer on meaningful supper app services, it could then grow the value proposition and attract more paying users. It could also introduce a freemium version at some point to expand the user base and gather more user data, but it is unclear whether Musk wants to fund that expense. With all that said, Grok has a decent chance to emerge as the personal AI assistant alternative to ChatGPT, even though it would likely be a distant second.”