Elon Musk unveils ‘Grok’ chatbot in efforts to rival ChatGPT

Elon Musk says he wants his version of AI to be “a maximum truth-seeking AI". Photo: Bret Hartman / TED CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED
Elon Musk’s company xAI launch Grok, an AI chatbot trained on real-time data from social media platform X, yet concerns over bias and misinformation remain

Elon Musk has launched an AI chatbot called Grok.

His AI company, xAI, released the AI model to a select group of people, after it was announced on his social media platform, X (formerly Twitter). Grok, the first product of Musk's AI company xAI, is now being tested by a small group of users in the United States (US).

The chatbot is being trained on data from X, including users posts, so as to be more knowledgeable about current events, as opposed to other bots with fixed datasets. Grok has also been designed to be witty and rebellious, according to the announcement, with an ability to craft playful or sarcastic responses.

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“Truth-seeking” AI as Grok uses real-time data

This news comes in the wake of the UK AI Safety Summit, which has seen calls for greater global collaboration and ethical development and deployment of AI tools. Speaking at the summit at Bletchley Park, Musk said AI is a threat to humanity, much like other technology executives, highlighting that systems could emerge that can evade human control.

“For the first time, we have a situation where there’s something that is going to be far smarter than the smartest human,” he said.

xAI claims that Grok will use more ‘real-time’ data, rather than having a cut-off period like other competitors. The chatbot will be available for premium users of the X social media platform under an early access programme, with more features set to be released over the next several months.

“Grok is an AI modelled after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so intended to answer almost anything and, far harder, even suggest what questions to ask,” xAI says in their announcement. “Grok is still a very early beta product – the best we could do with 2 months of training – so expect it to improve rapidly with each passing week with your help.”

As reported by The Guardian, xAI said Grok was powered by a large language model (LLM) called Grok-1. The company has said that Grok-1 has surpassed GPT-3.5, the model used in the freely available version of ChatGPT on some benchmarks such as solving middle-school maths problems. However, xAI said it was still lagging behind the more powerful ChatGPT model, GPT-4.

Elon Musk said earlier in 2023 that he also wanted his version of AI to be “a maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe.”

Possible risk of AI bias?

It has been stated that Grok has been developed in response to so-called “woke” chatbots and offers users the opportunity to ask more controversial questions otherwise rejected by other AI systems.

Musk even tweeted last December: “The danger of training AI to be woke – in other words, lie – is deadly,” in reply to a post by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

However, it could be argued that chatbots and machine learning tools harnessing information from social media could incite dangers of bias. In using X to learn from, Grok risks inheriting bias and spreading misinformation. This could be exacerbated by the chatbot’s more informal tone.

The Independent reported that the chatbot also appears to have less safety filters preventing it from answering questions about sensitive topics.

xAI said its goal was to create a tool that “maximally benefits all of humanity,” with the announcement stating: “We believe that it is important to design AI tools that are useful to people of all backgrounds and political views.”

With greater regulations set to be enforced in certain nations across the world, it is clear that, regardless of business competition, the development and deployment of AI and machine learning tools should be collaborative, informative and above all responsible.

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