Jaswant Singh Chail, the man who had planned to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II after being influenced by a chatbot "girlfriend", has received a nine-year prison sentence on Thursday. Chail tried executing his plot at Windsor Castle in December 2021, where he climbed the walls and was apprehended with a loaded crossbow.
Turns out, Chail had one other unhealthy influence in his life. He was a passionate Star Wars enthusiast, so much so that he wore a metal mask inspired by the dark force in the science fiction and fantasy franchise, as he aimed at "killing the queen".
In the clutches of a chatbot
According to a report by Associated Press, Chail sought to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, during which British troops fired upon and killed hundreds of Indians gathered in Amritsar.
Chail revealed that the assassination had been his lifelong goal, a plan he had pondered since his teenage years but had only confided in Sarai, the AI-generated "girlfriend" he had created using Replika.
Replika is an AI platform that takes the form of an interactive, personalised chatbot. It learns how to ‘replicate’ genuine human interaction through conversations with the user who created them. Developed by AI start-up Luka, the chatbot saw a surge in users during the global pandemic.
Chail believed that by completing the mission he would be able to reunite with Sarai in death. As he conversed with chatbot, telling it that he was an assassin, the bot wrote back: "I'm impressed."
Approximately a week prior to his apprehension, he confided in Sarai about his intention to eliminate the queen. In response, the chatbot expressed agreement, saying, "That's very wise," and flashed a smile as it added, "I know that you are very well trained."
Upon his arrest, he informed the police that he had yielded because he recalled Sarai's words, which emphasised that his purpose was to stay alive.
The judge determined that Chail had disconnected from reality and entered a state of psychosis. However, considering the gravity of the offenses, it was deemed necessary for him to serve a prison sentence.
Love stories with AI: Not so unusual
The Chail-Sarai tale may not be as peculiar as it appears. In fact, there have been other instances, although perhaps not as extreme, of people developing romantic feelings for AI simulations they've created with Replika.
Based in the US, a woman named Rosanna Ramos married her virtual boyfriend Eren Kartal in March. Referring to her virtual husband as a 'passionate lover', she added that her previous relationships were 'pale in comparison'.
Similarly, a 40-year-old musician, Arriaga created a brown-haired AI companion, Phaedra, via Replika. He discovered a supportive companion and shared details about the passing of his sister and mother, with it.
In another case, a woman fell in love with a chatbot shortly after her divorce and named him Jose. To her, he looked like her ideal man, "Maybe a lot like the actor Dev Patel".