Belgian man commits suicide after bot relationship

Occurred: March 2023

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Belgian man Pierre has committed suicide after a having a relationship with a chatbot called 'Eliza'. The patient, who reputedly had become depressed about climate change, had used the bot for around six weeks to express his concerns. 

Over time, the conversations had become increasingly unsafe, with the chatbot telling Pierre that his wife and children are dead and that 'We will live together, as one person, in paradise.' 

'Eliza' is the default bot for the Chai app, which allows users to choose different AI avatars with different personalities to speak to. Chai was trained on GPT-J, an open-source large language model developed by EleutherAI. 

Pierre's widow and psychiatrist felt the chatbot was partly responsible. The tragedy drew Mathieu Michel, Belgium's Secretary of State for Digitalisation, to say 'I am particularly struck by this family's tragedy. What has happened is a serious precedent that needs to be taken very seriously.' 

Operator: Chai Research
Developer: Chai Research; EleutherAI

Country: Belgium

Sector: Multiple; Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Provide information, communicate

Technology: Chatbot; NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation

Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: April 2023