Grok vs ChatGPT: How Does Elon Musk’s AI Chatbot Stack Up?

Elon Musk and xAI have unveiled Grok, a new AI chatbot designed to rival ChatGPT. Is it any good and how do the two compare?

Elon Musk’s artificial intelligence company, xAI, has just revealed the prototype of its new chatbot, Grok. Even though it’s still in its infancy, it’s already being touted as superior to ChatGPT, which has become a household name in the last 18 months.

Musk has called Grok “the best that currently exists,” and while this could easily be dismissed as characteristic bluster from the renegade tech billionaire, Grok vs ChatGPT is certainly shaping up as a fascinating clash of the chatbots.

In this guide, you’ll learn how Grok and ChatGPT compare in terms of their history, availability, pricing, language models, responses, data sources and more.

What Is Grok AI? What Does Grok Mean?

Before we get started, let’s just quickly recap what Grok actually is.

Grok AI is the new artificial intelligence chatbot from Elon Musk’s xAI startup. It’s the newest player in an increasingly competitive space that also features the likes of Google Bard, Claude AI, and others.

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Grok’s name is both inspired by 1960s sci-fi and a lesser known verb that’s highly relevant to AI. According to Oxford Languages, it means to “understand (something intuitively or by empathy,” so in an example sentence the business leaders seemed “to grok the concept quite quickly.”

It’s also a word in the Martian language as laid out in Robert Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, where its basic meaning is “to drink” but it also has an expanded context where it “meant to take something in so thoroughly that it becomes part of you.”

Now let’s look at Grok vs ChatGPT in more detail.

Grok vs ChatGPT Pricing

While Grok access is currently limited, when it does roll out more widely to X Premium+ subscribers that means it will effectively be priced at $16 a month.

ChatGPT pricing starts with a free tier, which gets you access to a version of the chatbot running the older GPT-3.5 large language model (LLM).

Pony up $20 a month and you’ll get access to ChatGPT Plus. Primarily, this lets you use the chatbot with the latest version of OpenAI’s LLM, GPT-4, which means the responses you get will be better. It also gets you advanced functionality like the ability to install ChatGPT plugins, features like DALL-E 3 integration, and the latest addition to the platform in custom GPT building functionality.

Above this, ChatGPT has an Enterprise tier with on-demand pricing. It also offers access to the ChatGPT API for developers and organizations via a token system. Here, the new GPT-4 Turbo model recently unveiled is now much cheaper than its predecessor, GPT-4.

Grok vs ChatGPT: Data Sources and Language Models

ChatGPT trains its language model using data and information that’s publicly available on the internet. In less flattering terms, this is sometimes called “scraping” and means that ChatGPT essentially ingests all the books, news articles, social media posts and Wikipedia pages that are published online.

This knowledge then becomes the large language model, or LLM, that’s responsible for the responses outputted to users who ask ChatGPT questions.

The GPT-3.5 model used on the free-to-all version of ChatGPT was trained on information available up to September 2021. The same is technically true of GPT-4, though as it’s more advanced in general, it’s able to better learn and respond to current information provided through ChatGPT prompts.

Grok’s prototype is running a language model called Grok-1 that’s trained partly using real-time data from the X social media platform. This up-to-the-minute knowledge is designed to make Grok the most current AI chatbot around and is why Elon Musk says it’s already smarter than GPT-3.5.

To make his point, Musk shared the following comparison of Grok vs ChatGPT responses.

It’s clear there that Grok furnishes more current and relevant information than ChatGPT, but any clear advantage the xAI chatbot enjoyed over its rival was short lived, as OpenAI released its new GPT-4 Turbo model basically while people were still finishing dessert at the Grok reveal. When you look at GPT-4 Turbo vs GPT-4, the big difference is a more current crawl date of April 2023 for the fresh version, which means there’s longer a clear winner here – especially as Grok access is still walled off and we can’t yet test it for ourselves.

Grok vs ChatGPT: Responses

Beyond the technicalities of large language models, a final key difference between Grok and ChatGPT is that Grok is being hyped for its sense of humor.

Musk promises witty, sarcastic responses from Grok, which he hopes will serve as an antidote to ChatGPT’s sometimes dry responses. Musk has also criticized ChatGPT and its parent company, OpenAI, for an alleged left-wing bias in the past.

However, the launch of Grok was a light-hearted rather than an overly political one. To highlight his new AI chatbot’s capacity for wisecracks, Musk shared how it help users find out how to make cocaine.

Grok vs ChatGPT: Who Actually Owns Them?

Elon Musk’s AI startup, xAI, owns Grok and was founded in March 2023 with the modest aim of understanding “the true nature of the universe.”

As its name would suggest, it’s closely linked to X Corp (and X Holdings Corp), which is Musk’s larger company that owns social media platform X (formerly Twitter). That’s why, as you’re about to see, Grok’s release is closely tied to X and integration with other Musk projects like Tesla has also already been touted.

A statement on the xAI website reads: “[xAI is a] separate company from X Corp, but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission.”

When it comes to who owns ChatGPT, that’s a company called OpenAI. It was founded back in 2015 and is currently helmed by CEO Sam Altman. Like Musk, Altman is one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world and regularly speaks out on hot button tech issues such as AI ethics.

Both of these companies are headquartered out of the San Francisco area. A final wrinkle in the Grok vs ChatGPT rivalry is that Elon Musk plowed as much as $1 billion into OpenAI in the past, before a failed bid to takeover management of the company in 2018 saw him step down from its board.

Availability: How to Sign Up for Grok

A key difference between ChatGPT and Grok is that anyone can try OpenAI’s chatbot, while newcomer Grok is currently only available to a select group of early stage beta testers.

That’s not really a surprise. OpenAI’s chatbot was first released back in November 2022, which means it’s now a year old and widely available to the public via the ChatGPT website.

Grok, on the other hand, is currently in “early beta” testing according to Elon Musk.  We’d expect Grok’s release timeline to be a relatively speedy one, as Musk isn’t exactly known for his love of waiting around for things.

According to the X and Tesla head honcho, a more stable version of the Grok beta is coming to X Premium+ subscribers, the new paid tier of X that was unveiled in October. That means signing up for X Premium+ and signing up for Grok are likely to be one and the same in the future, so if you want to get ahead, that’s what should do.

You can also sign up for the Grok beta testing waitlist here, though getting early access at this stage might be a longshot.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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