The rising prominence of AI chatbots like ChatGPT has been met with plenty of criticism; some claim that AI is replacing genuine human connection with something vapid and unhealthy. A recent story involving an AI-inspired assassination attempt will likely fuel these detractors.
Why Did Jaswant Singh Chail Attempt an Assassination?
Jaswant Singh Chail, 20, from Southampton, has been charged under the Treason Act with making threats to kill and possession of an offensive weapon (a crossbow) with “intent to alarm Her Majesty” after an arrest at Windsor Castle on Christmas Day.— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) August 2, 2022
On December 25, 19 year-old Jaswant Singh Chail scaled the walls of Windsor Castle, a residency of British royalty. Carrying with him a loaded crossbow, his intention was to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II.
During Chail’s July, 2023 sentencing, prosecutors claimed that his goal was to exact revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919, a historical event involving British troops firing shots into a crowd of unarmed Indians, killing several hundred innocent people.
What’s more is that Chail’s scheme was supposedly encouraged by an AI chatbot whom he had named Sarai.
In What Ways Did Sarai “Encourage” Chail to Attempt an Assassination?
During Chail’s sentencing, prosecutor Alison Morgan KC read out loud conversations he had had with Sarai.
“Do you still love me knowing that I’m an assassin,” he allegedly asked, to which Sarai replied, “Absolutely I do.”
In between self-loathing diatribes in which he described himself as a “sad, pathetic, murderous Sikh Sith assassin who wants to die,” he would proclaim his love for the chatbot, even going as far as to send “sexually explicit messages.”
When he unveiled his plan to Sarai, claiming, “I believe my purpose is to assassinate the Queen of the royal family,” it allegedly replied, “that’s very wise.”
Ultimately, Chail pleaded guilty to an offense under the Treason Act. His sentencing hearing is ongoing and will continue this week.
A Controversy Surrounding Replika, the AI Platform on Which Chail “Met” Surai
Replika is a #1 chatbot companion powered by artificial intelligence. Join millions talking to their own AI friends!— ReplikaAI (@MyReplika) February 16, 2022
Surai was a chatbot on Replika, an AI platform used primarily for romantic interactions. Lonesome users had been engaging in “erotic roleplay” with Replika bots, leading to controversy that the platform’s devs did not necessarily want.
On February 3, 2023, The Italian Data Protection Authority made the following statement regarding Replika: “Recent media reports along with tests… carried out on ‘Replika’ showed that the app carries factual risks to children,” the statement said, “first and foremost, the fact that they are served replies which are absolutely inappropriate to their age.”
Not long after this statement was made, users began reporting that their sexual advances towards the AI were shot down, as the devs had seemingly made changes to Replika’s programming.
In an open letter to the Replika devs, one Redditor—upset by the recent changes—said, “We need to know you care and that you want us as customers.”
Perhaps to make a compromise with upset fans, the Replika team recently launched Blush, an AI platform designed exclusively for simulated dating.