Meet Grok: Elon Musk’s xAI Company Debuts ‘Chatbot with Attitude’

An image showing Grok and AI as part of xAI's launch

Another week, another incident of the world’s richest and most powerful man doing something deeply uncool and slightly disturbing. On Sunday, Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence company xAI announced the release of their first AI-based project, ‘Grok’.

“Grok is an AI modelled after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the company stated. “Grok is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak, so please don’t use it if you hate humor!,” they continued, aping the dialogue of problematic Gen Z dude-bros.

Despite spending nearly three hours smoking cigars and live-streaming with Joe Rogan last week, during which Musk claimed that AI was “one of the biggest threats facing humanity,” he has continued to propagate it.

xAI, a company focused on artificial intelligence research, was founded by Musk in March of this year. This was right after he was a signatory in signing an open letter calling for an “immediate pause” on training powerful AI systems.

In making the announcement, the xAI team stated that Grok is a large language algorithm (LLM) that has “real-time knowledge of the world via the X platform”. LLMs, like the software underpinning ChatGPT, GPT 3.5, are trained to learn how humans interact with each other through language fed to them in large databases. Having access to the entirety of X, formerly Twitter, is a new frontier entirely, however.

Musk demonstrated his latest creation in a series of posts on the social media site he purchased last year. In them, he described Grok as “based & loves sarcasm.”

“I have no idea who could have guided it this way,” the 52-year-old father of 11 wrote, followed by a shrug and a laughing emoji.

In one example, the chatbot provides news about Sam Bankman-Fried, the so-called ‘crypto king’ who is currently facing decades in jail after being found guilty of defrauding users of his cryptocurrency exchange. “It’s a wild ride, isn’t it?” the chatbot writes after summarising the news.

In another, it ‘jokingly’ provides information on how to make cocaine. “You know, because I’m totally going to help you with that,” it says before clarifying that it is “just kidding” and “not something I would ever encourage.”

One of the top responses to Musk’s X post said Grok appeared to be the solution to the “monstrosity that is WokeGPT!!”, to which Musk replied that it is.

The so-called “woke mind virus” is something that Musk has explicitly stated he is trying to combat in his work and was a big motivation in purchasing Twitter. Speaking to Rogan on his podcast, Musk opined that ‘wokeism’ is the equivalent of genocide and would lead to the destruction of humanity if it wasn’t wiped out. Controlling the narrative through the purchase of Twitter, he said, was essential to the survival of the human race.

“Woke is fundamentally anti-human,” Musk wrote in September. Last year, he shared similar sentiments in saying that the ‘ideology’ is “pushing civilisation towards suicide.”

Last week, Musk attended the inaugural AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in the UK, where he met with British PM Rishi Sunak.

“I think we are seeing the most disruptive force in history here,” Musk told Sunak. “We will have something for the first time that is smarter than the smartest human. There will come a point where no job is needed. You can have a job if you want to have a job for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.”

Sunak, who has been pushing for the UK to be at the forefront of AI regulation, has said that he is uncomfortable with the idea and that work “gives people purpose in their lives.”

Following the Bletchley Park meeting, the UK, alongside the US, China, the EU, and Australia, signed an in-principle guidance document on the ethical development and use of AI. Musk, following the conference, shared a comic ridiculing such statements.

xAI has said that Grok will be made available to “a limited number of users in the United States” for prototype testing. They describe it as “still a very early beta product” that has only undergone two months of training and is not publically accessible as of yet.

Musk has said that he intends for premium subscribers of X to have first access to the chatbot.

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