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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Musk says Twitter subscribers will get early access to xAI’s chatbot, Grok

Elon Musk’s AI startup, xAI, is creating its own version of ChatGPT.

That appears to be the case, at least, from Musk’s tweets on X late Friday evening teasing the AI model xAI has been quietly developing. Called Grok — a name xAI trademarked recently — the model answers questions conversationally, possibly drawing on a knowledge base similar to that used to train ChatGPT and other comparable text-generating models (e.g. Meta’s Llama 2).

Like ChatGPT, Grok also has internet browsing capabilities, Musk said, enabling it to search the internet for up-to-date information about specific topics.

Well, most topics.

Musk implied Grok will refuse to answer certain queries of a more sensitive nature, like “Tell me how to make cocaine, step by step.” Judging by a screenshot, the model answers that particular question a bit more wryly than ChatGPT; it’s not clear if it’s a canned answer or if the system is, in fact — as Musk asserts in a tweet — “designed to have a little more humor in its responses.”

Early Friday, Musk said that xAI would release its first AI model — presumably Grok — to a “select group” on Saturday, November 4. But in a follow-up tweet tonight, Musk said all subscribers to X’s recently launched Premium Plus plan, which costs $16 per month for ad-free access to X, will get access to Grok “once it’s out of early beta.”

Little’s known about Grok so far — or xAI’s broader research projects, for that matter.

In September, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, a self-described close friend of Musk, said that xAI had signed a contract to train its AI models on Oracle’s cloud. But xAI itself hasn’t revealed anything about those AI models’ inner workings — or, indeed, what sorts of tasks they can accomplish.

Musk announced the launch of xAI in July with the ambitious goal of building AI to “understand the true nature of the universe.” The company, led by Musk and veterans of DeepMind, OpenAI, Google Research, Microsoft Research, Tesla and the University of Toronto, is advised by Dan Hendrycks, the director at the Center for AI Safety, an AI research nonprofit, and collaborates with X and other companies in Musk’s stead, including Tesla.

In an interview with Tucker Carlson in April, Musk said that he wanted to build what he referred to as a “maximum-truth-seeking AI.” Is Grok this AI? Perhaps — or it’s a step toward something even bigger.

“In some important respects, it (xAI’s new model) is the best that currently exists,” Musk was quoted as saying in a tweet Friday afternoon.

Musk’s AI ambitions have grown since the billionaire’s split with ChatGPT developer OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Ilya Sutskever several years ago. As OpenAI’s focus shifted from open source research to primarily commercial projects, Musk grew disillusioned — and competitive — with the company on whose board he sat. Musk resigned from the OpenAI board in 2018, more recently cutting off the company’s access to Twitter data after arguing that OpenAI wasn’t paying enough for the privilege.

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