Elon Musk Announces Grok, the xAI Chatbot, Will Launch for X Premium+ Subscribers Next Week

After screenshots surfaced of xAI’s chatbot Grok appearing on X’s web app, Elon Musk, the owner of X, confirmed that Grok would be available to all of the company’s Premium+ subscribers sometime “next week.” Musk’s statements on delivery time frames have not always been reliable, but coding developments in X’s own app revealed that Grok integration was already in progress.

This week, app researcher Nima Owji shared screenshots showing how Grok had been added to X’s web app, indicating that its URL would be twitter.com/i/grok. In one screenshot, non-Premium+ users were invited to upgrade to gain access to Grok. Another showed an “Ask Grok” text entry box for communicating with the AI chatbot. While these features were not yet publicly available, they suggested that Grok’s rollout was imminent.

Initially released on November 4 to select testers, Grok is Elon Musk’s response to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, Anthropic’s Claude, and others, and could potentially attract users as part of X’s broader social platform.

Additionally, xAI, the company behind Grok, promises that its chatbot will have more personality than its competitors. 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 Grok’s sole differentiator — it will also have access to real-time knowledge via the X platform, which could be an interesting component, albeit one that may not lead to the highest accuracy in its responses.

The addition of Grok could potentially drive sign-ups for X’s Premium subscription, which has not performed as well as Musk had hoped. The X owner transformed Twitter Blue into X Premium, promising paid verification among various other features, such as 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 the division of its Premium service into three tiers: a $3 per month Basic subscription which does not remove ads, the existing $8 per month X Premium subscription, and a $16 per month Premium+ subscription which eliminates all ads in the For You and Following feeds, and introduces a Creator Hub where users can monetize their posts and offer subscriptions to their fans.

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

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

Although Grok’s arrival lacks the boardroom drama of OpenAI, Altman has taken note of Grok’s release, even criticizing the chatbot’s purported comedic abilities by posting a screenshot of a GPT instructed to “be a chatbot that answers questions with cringey boomer humor” and calling it Grok. Musk responded by labeling ChatGPT-4 “GPT-Snore,” and suggesting that “humor is clearly banned at OpenAI, just like the many other subjects it censors.”

Previously a co-founder of OpenAI, Musk later parted ways with the nonprofit and retracted his planned donation after Altman and other founders rejected an offer that would have allowed Musk to take control of the company. This led to a public dispute between the two prominent AI industry executives and prompted Musk to subsequently launch his own AI firm, xAI, with veterans from Google DeepMind, Google Research, OpenAI, Microsoft Research, and Tesla.

Grok has been trained on a knowledge base similar to ChatGPT and Meta’s Llama 2, but will utilize real-time access to information on X, as stated by Musk. It will also be able to retrieve up-to-date information from the web on certain topics.

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