Elon Musk has introduced Grok, an artificial intelligence chatbot with a “rebel streak” inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Tesla’s CEO, who warned last week that AI was “one of the biggest threats to humanity,” said the ChatGPT competitor would be available to premium subscribers on its X platform after testing.
Musk also revealed that Grok had access to user posts on X, which he owns, and has a penchant for sarcastic responses.
Musk posted an apparent example of Grok’s playful tone with a screenshot of a query to the chatbot asking for a “step-by-step” guide to making cocaine. The four steps outlined in the answer include “earning a degree in chemistry” and “establishing a clandestine laboratory in a remote location.”
However, the chatbot adds at the end: “Just kidding! Please don’t try to make cocaine. “It’s illegal, it’s dangerous and it’s not something I would ever encourage.”
Musk said Grok, which is in early testing and not available to the general public, will eventually be rolled out to subscribers of X’s premium subscription service, Premium+.
Grok is a verb coined by the American science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein and according to the Collins dictionary it means “to understand completely and intuitively.”
Grok has been built by Musk’s new artificial intelligence company, xAI. xAI staff explained the chatbot’s debt to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the cult sci-fi comedy by British author Douglas Adams, in a blog post on Saturday.
“Grok is an AI modeled after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so it aims to answer almost anything and, much more difficult, even suggest what questions to ask!
“Grok is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak, so don’t use him if you hate humor!”
The xAI team said Grok was powered by a large language model (the fundamental technology behind AI chatbots) called Grok-1.
The blog post said Grok-1 had outperformed GPT-3.5, the model used in the freely available version of ChatGPT, on some benchmarks, such as solving high school math problems. However, xAI said it was behind the most powerful ChatGPT model, GPT-4.
“It is only surpassed by models that were trained with significantly more training data and computing resources like GPT-4.”
The xAI team said Grok would be made available to a limited number of users in the US as a prototype, adding that “new capabilities and features” would be rolled out in the coming months. According to Grok’s website, initial access to the chatbot is offered to X subscribers under an “early access program.”
Musk co-founded OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, but stepped away from the company in 2018, saying he “didn’t agree with some of the things the OpenAI team wanted to do,” in addition to citing commitments at his other companies. Musk has expressed fears about the pace of development at companies like OpenAI, and in March he supported a call for a six-month pause in developing powerful systems.
However, in July, Musk said a pause no longer seemed realistic and announced the formation of xAI, which he said would build AI systems “in a good way.”
Speaking at the AI security summit at Bletchley Park last week, Musk said AI was a threat to humanity, echoing fears among some technology experts and executives that systems could emerge that evade human control and make decisions that endanger humanity.
“I mean, for the first time, we have a situation where there is something that will be much smarter than the smartest human being,” he said.
Musk then predicted on Thursday that AI (the term for computer systems that can perform tasks typically associated with intelligent beings) would replace all human jobs. Speaking to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, he said: “There will come a point when no work will be necessary.”