April 17, 2024
Elon Musk says xAI's chatbot 'Grok' will launch to X Premium+ subscribers next week


Shortly after screenshots emerged showing xAI’s chatbot Grok appearing on X’s web app, X owner Elon Musk confirmed that Grok would be available to all of the company’s Premium+ subscribers sometime “next week.” While Musk’s pronouncements about time frames for product deliveries haven’t always held up, code developments in X’s own app revealed that Grok integration was already underway.

This week, app researcher Nima Owji shared screenshots showing how Grok had been added to X’s web app, noting that its URL would be twitter.com/i/grok. In one screenshot, users who were not yet Premium+ subscribers would be invited to upgrade to gain access to Grok. Another showed an “Ask Grok” text entry box for communicating with the AI chatbot. The features were not public-facing at the time of his discovery, however, but suggested that Grok’s rollout was nearing.

First released on November 4 to select testers, Grok is Musk’s answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, Anthropic’s Claude and others, and could potentially gain a following as part of X’s broader social platform.

In addition, xAI, the Musk-owned company behind Grok, promises that its chatbot will have more of a personality than rivals. It plans to respond to users’ questions “with a bit of a wit” and is said to have a “rebellious streak,” according to its website. The chatbot also plans to answer “spicy” questions that are rejected by other AI systems, the company has noted.

But personality alone won’t be key to Grok’s differentiation — it will also have access to real-time knowledge via the X platform, which could be an interesting component, if not one that leads to the highest accuracy in terms of its responses.

The addition could help juice sign-ups for X’s Premium subscription, which has yet to fare as well as Musk hoped. The X owner revamped Twitter Blue to become X Premium, promising paid verification among a host of other features, like increased exposure in replies, an edit button, the ability to publish longer posts and videos, and a reduction of ads.

As a result, X recently announced it would split up its Premium service to include three tiers: a $3 per month Basic subscription which doesn’t remove ads, the existing $8 per month X Premium subscription and a $16 per month Premium+ subscription which removes all the ads in the For You and Following feeds, and introduces a Creator Hub where users can get paid to post and offer their fans subscriptions.

Grok is joining this higher-priced tier, which could encourage other X users, beyond creators, to sign up. That additional revenue is now more needed than ever as X is facing an advertiser exodus over concerns about antisemitic content on the platform, and Musk’s own behavior in terms of amplifying antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Notably, Grok’s expected debut will follow a week of drama at rival AI company OpenAI where, over a matter of days, its CEO Sam Altman was ousted by way of a board rebellion, then joined by co-founder Greg Brockman, both of whom were announced as new Microsoft hires, before negotiations saw Altman returning as CEO with a new board in tow.

Though Grok’s arrival won’t have the boardroom drama of OpenAI, Altman has taken notice of Grok’s arrival, even dunking on the chatbot’s supposed comedic abilities, by posting a screenshot of a GPT that instructs it to “be a chatbot that answers questions with cringey boomer humor” and calling it Grok. Musk responded by calling ChatGPT-4 “GPT-Snore,” adding that “humor is clearly banned at OpenAI, just like the many other subjects it censors.”

An early co-founder of OpenAI, Musk later walked away from the nonprofit and pulled his planned donation, after Altman and OpenAI’s other founders rejected an offer that would have allowed Musk to take control of the company. The move resulted in a public rift between two key AI industry execs, leading Musk to later launch his own AI firm, xAI, with veterans from Google DeepMind, Google Research, OpenAI, Microsoft Research and Tesla.

Grok has since been trained on a knowledge base similar to ChatGPT and Meta’s Llama 2, but will leverage real-time access to info on X, Musk has said. It will also be able to search the web for up-to-date information on some topics.





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