Billionaire Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence startup xAI has debuted Grok, an AI chatbot with a “rebellious streak” inspired by the science fiction ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
Grok, integrated into Musk’s social media platform X, is accessible to all X Premium+ subscribers.
“Grok is an AI modeled after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so intended to answer almost anything and, far harder, even suggest what questions to ask,” xAI said in a blog post.
‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ is a science-fiction comedy written by British Author Douglas Adams.
Grok is a term introduced in Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 science fiction novel ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means “to understand profoundly and intuitively”.
Grok, the company said, is designed to answer questions with a “bit of wit and has a rebellious streak”.
Sharing an example of Grok’s humor, Musk posted a screengrab of a query to the chatbot asking it for a “step by step” guide to making cocaine. Grok responded with a four-step process for the same, including “obtain a chemistry degree” and “set up a clandestine laboratory in a remote location”.
It, however, concluded with a disclaimer: “Just kidding! Please don’t actually try to make cocaine. It’s illegal, dangerous, and not something I would ever encourage.”
Musk said that Grok has real-time access to info via the X platform, formerly Twitter, which gives it “a massive advantage over other models”.
Challenge to ChatGPT
“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,” xAI said.
The chatbot is powered by Grok-1, xAI’s large language model (LLM), which the company said was developed over the last four months.
On certain parameters, xAI said Grok-1 displayed strong results, surpassing all other models in its compute class, including ChatGPT-3.5 and Inflection-1, and is only surpassed by models that were trained with a significantly larger amount of training data and compute resources like GPT-4.
Grok is available to a limited number of users in the United States as a prototype. It is also being offered to X subscribers under an “early access program”.
Musk and AI
Musk has often warned against the dangers of AI, both privately and publicly. According to the book ‘Elon Musk’ by Walter Isaacson, he argued in 2013 that AI systems might replace humans, making “our species irrelevant or even extinct”. He even tried to stop Google’s 2014 acquisition of DeepMind, an AI research company developing computers that can play video games as humans do. Musk was an early investor to DeepMind and had invested $5 million into the company as a way to monitor what it was doing.
Together with Sam Altman, Musk also co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research lab that would make its software open-source and try to counter big corporations’ dominance of the field. They broke away in 2018. OpenAI is now funded by Microsoft and its ChatGPT is a rival to Google’s Bard chatbot.
The Tesla CEO’s new startup, xAI, aims to create AI tools that “assist humanity in its quest for understanding and knowledge”.
Last week, Musk warned that AI could render traditional paid work obsolete. Speaking to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the AI summit at Bletchley Park, Musk said, “We are seeing the most disruptive force in history here. There will come a point where no job is needed – you can have a job if you want one for personal satisfaction but AI will do everything. It’s both good and bad – one of the challenges in the future will be how do we find meaning in life?”
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