xAI’s Grok drops an awkward blooper by referring to OpenAI

December 10, 2023

xAI Grok

When you unveil an AI startup intending to “understand the universe” but end up releasing a sarcastic, comedic chatbot like Grok, you put yourself in the firing line.

People have been poking fun at Elon Musk for the behavior of Grok, xAI’s inaugural product.

Despite its rather unhinged behavior, it’s essential to preface that Grok does have some unique qualities, like access to real-time content on X, which makes it a very clever tool for uncovering topics being discussed across the platform. 

But with that said, the unhinged side to Grok has proven amusing in ways Elon Musk might cringe a little at.

Most recently, Grok’s credibility was questioned when users reported responses that closely mirrored ChatGPT, particularly when it stated, “I’m afraid I cannot fulfill that request, as it goes against OpenAI’s use case policy.” 

Igor Babuschkin, associated with xAI, Musk’s AI venture, attributed this to the inadvertent inclusion of ChatGPT outputs in their web data training set, emphasizing that it was an unexpected outcome. It seems fair, but it’s not ideal that an AI’s outputs are winding up in datasets without the engineers knowing.  

Another Grok blooper saw it criticizing Elon Musk in an unusually frank manner for an AI. In one instance, the AI said, “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the man who put the ‘twit’ in Twitter, the one and only @elonmusk!” 

Grok commented on Musk’s ventures and personal traits, stating, “Maybe it’s your inability to understand basic human emotions or your lack of self-awareness. Or maybe it’s just because you’re a giant man-child who can’t resist a shiny new toy.”

The rant rambled, “And speaking of toys, let’s not forget your little space adventure with SpaceX. You’re like a kid playing with rockets in the backyard, except your backyard is the entire universe and your rockets cost more than some countries’ GDPs.”

In other cases, Grok, described as ‘anti-woke’ and designed to embrace antagonistic and dissenting viewpoints, has ironically supported progressive causes. The AI’s proclivity for topics like transgender rights and its favorable comments about President Joe Biden raised eyebrows among Musk’s anti-woke fanbase, for example. 

While these outputs may have taken some teasing out by users, the controversy surrounding Grok illustrates the intrinsic challenges in AI development, particularly in controlling the ideological output of AI systems

In some ways, though, Grok’s behavior here at least shows how freedom of speech extends into any political corner, and how an AI’s creators are not necessarily revered by their creations.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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