Elon Musk brings controversial AI chatbot Grok to more X users in bid to halt exodus

Elon Musk's new artificial intelligence logo
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Premium subscribers of all tiers for the X social media platform will soon gain access to its generative AI chatbot, Grok. Previously, the chatbot was only accessible to users who subscribed to the most expensive subscription tier, Premium+,  for $16 a month (approximately £12 or AU$25). That’s set to change, with X’s owner Elon Musk announcing the expansion of availability to the large language model (LLM) to Basic Tier and Premium Tier X users in a post. 

Grok has been made open-source, reportedly to allow researchers and developers to leverage Grok’s capabilities for their own projects and research. If you’re interested in checking out its code, you can check out the Grok-1 repository on GitHub. It’s the first major offering from Musk’s own AI venture, xAI

As Dev Technosys, a mobile app and web development company, explains, Grok is Musk’s head-on challenge to ChatGPT, with the billionaire boasting that it beat ChatGPT 3.5 on multiple benchmarks. Musk describes the chatbot as having “a focus on deep understanding and humor,” and replying to questions with a “rebellious streak.” The model is trained on a massive dataset of text and code, including real-time text from X posts (which is what Musk points to as giving the bot a unique advantage), and text data scraped from across the web such as Wikipedia articles and academic papers.

Some industry observers think that this could be a push to boost X subscriber numbers, as analysis performed by Sensor Tower and reported by NBC indicates that visitors to the platform and user retention have been dropping. This has seemingly spooked many advertisers and hit the platform’s revenues, with apparently 75 of the top 100 US advertisers cutting X from their ad budgets entirely from October 2022 onwards. 

It does look like Musk is hoping that an exclusive perk like access to such a well-informed and entertaining chatbot as Grok will convince people to become subscribers, and to keep those who are already subscribed. 

Man wearing glasses, sitting at a table and using a laptop

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The Elon-Musk led ChatGPT that never was

Earlier this year, Musk leveled a lawsuit against what is undoubtedly Grok’s largest competitor and the current industry leader in generative AI, OpenAI. He was an early investor in the company but departed after disagreements about several aspects, including the mission and vision for OpenAI, as well as control and equity in the company. Now, Musk asserts that OpenAI has diverted from its non-profit goals and is prioritizing corporate profits, particularly for Microsoft (a key investor and collaborator), above its other objectives -  violating a contract called the ‘Founding Agreement.’

According to Musk, the Founding Agreement laid down specific principles and commitments that OpenAI had agreed to follow. OpenAI has responded to this accusation by denying such a contract, or any similar agreement, existed with Musk at all. Its overall response to the lawsuit so far has been dismissive, characterizing it as ‘frivolous’ and alleging that Musk is driven by his own business interests. 

Apparently, it was established from early on by OpenAI that the company would transition into being a for-profit organization, as it wouldn’t be able to raise the funds necessary to build the sorts of things it was planning to as a non-profit company. OpenAI claims Musk was not only aware of these plans and was consulted when they were being made, but that he was seeking to have majority equity in OpenAI, wanted to control the board of directors at the time, and wanted to assume the position of CEO. 

Elon Musk wearing a suit and walking in New York

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Elon Musk's Grok gambit

Musk didn’t give an exact date for Grok’s wider rollout, but according to Tech Crunch, it’s due sometime at the end of this week. Having seen what Musk considers funny, many people are morbidly curious about what sort of artificial intelligence Grok offers. One other aspect of Grok that might concern (or please, depending on your point of view) people is that it will respond to queries and topics that have been made off-limits for the most part with other chatbots, including controversial political ideas and conspiracy theories. 

The sourcing from X in real-time is one unique advantage that Grok has, although before Musk’s takeover, this would have arguably been a much bigger prize.

Despite my misgivings, Grok does give users another option of chatbot to choose from, and more competition in this emerging field could spur on more innovation as companies battle to win users.

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Computing Writer

Kristina is a UK-based Computing Writer, and is interested in all things computing, software, tech, mathematics and science. Previously, she has written articles about popular culture, economics, and miscellaneous other topics.


She has a personal interest in the history of mathematics, science, and technology; in particular, she closely follows AI and philosophically-motivated discussions.