The Mindblowing Experience of a Chatbot That Answers Instantly

If all that is true—and there’s no way to tell right now—Groq might well pose a threat to the dominance of Nvidia. Ross is careful when discussing this. “Let’s be clear—they’re Goliath, and we’re David,” he says. “It would be very, very foolish to say that Nvidia is worried about us.” When asked about Groq, though, Nvidia’s prompt response indicates that the startup is indeed on its radar. With near-Groq-like speed, the Goliath’s PR team sent me a statement indicating that Nvidia’s AI advantage is not only in its chips but other services it provides to customers. like AI software, memory, networking, and other goodies. “AI compute in the data center is a complex challenge that requires a full-stack solution,” it says, implying that its unnamed competitor might be stack-challenged.

In any case, Ross says he’s not competing with Nvidia but offering an alternative experience—and not just in terms of speed. He’s on a mission to make sure that Groq will deliver fair results unsullied by political point of view or pressure from commercial interests. “Groq will never be involved in advertising, ever,” he says. “Because that’s influencing people. AI should always be neutral, it should never tell you what you should be thinking. Groq exists to make sure everyone has access. It’s helping you make your decision, not its decisions.” Great sentiments, but even the Groq chatbot, when I quizzed it about early-stage idealism, is skeptical about such claims. “The pressure to generate profits and scale can lead even well-intentioned founders to compromise on their ideals,” it promptly replied.

One other thing. You may have heard that Elon Musk has given the name “Grok” to the LLM created by his AI company. This took Ross by surprise, since he says he trademarked the name of his company when he founded it in 2016, and he believes it covers the phonetically identical original term. “We called dibs,” he says. “He can’t have it. We’ve sent a cease-and-desist letter.” So far he hasn’t gotten a response from Musk.

When I asked Groq about the name dispute, it first cautioned me that it doesn’t provide legal opinions. “However, I can provide some context that may help you understand the situation better,” it said. The bot explained that the term grok has been used in the industry for decades, so Musk would be within his rights to use it. On the other hand, if Groq trademarked the term, it might well have an exclusive claim. All accurate and on the mark—everything you’d expect from a modern LLM. What you would not expect was that the reply appeared in less than a second.

Time Travel

In my book on Google, In the Plex, I explained how the company, and its cofounder Larry Page, prioritized speed and recognized that faster products are used not only more often, but differently. It became an obsession within Google.

Engineers working for Page learned quickly enough of [his speed] priority. “When people do demos and they’re slow, I’m known to count sometimes,” he says. “One one-thousand, two one-thousand. That tends to get people’s attention.” Actually, if your product could be measured in seconds, you’d already failed. Paul Buchheit remembers one time when he was doing an early Gmail demo in Larry’s office. Page made a face and told him it was way too slow. Buchheit objected, but Page reiterated his complaint, charging that the reload took at least 600 milliseconds. (That’s six-tenths of a second.) Buchheit thought, You can’t know that, but when he got back to his own office he checked the server logs. Six hundred milliseconds. “He nailed it,” says Buchheit.

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