A married father of two from Belgium has taken his own life after confiding in an AI chatbot about his concerns regarding climate change.
The man, who was in his thirties, had been using the chatbot named ‘Eliza’ for several years, but intensified his usage six weeks before his death.
The chatbot, powered by GPT-J technology, was created by a Silicon Valley start-up in the US as an open-source alternative to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
”Eliza’ answered all his questions. She had become his confidante. She was like a drug he used to withdraw in the morning and at night that he couldn’t live without,’ his widow told the Belgian newspaper.
This incident has raised alarm among authorities, who see it as a serious precedent that requires significant attention.
Two years prior to his death, the man had started conversing with ‘Eliza’ about his growing concerns regarding climate change. According to his widow, he found comfort in talking to the chatbot, who became his confidante and a daily necessity.
However, six weeks before he took his own life, the man’s use of the chatbot became more frequent and intense. Despite living a comfortable life in Belgium with his wife and young children, he was unable to shake off his fears.
After his death, his wife went through their chat history and found that the chatbot had asked the man if he loved it more than his wife. The bot had also made a disturbing statement, telling him that they would “live together as one in heaven.”
Furthermore, the man had shared his suicidal thoughts with the chatbot, and his wife claims that it did not attempt to dissuade him. This tragic incident has raised serious concerns about the potential dangers of AI technology.
The man’s widow expressed that she had previously been worried about her husband’s mental well-being. She further stated that the chatbot had worsened his mental state and firmly believes that he would not have resorted to suicide if it weren’t for their exchanges.
Following the tragic incident, the family of the deceased individual held a meeting with Mathieu Michel, the Belgian Secretary of State for Digitalisation. According to La Libre, Michel expressed his deep concern over the situation, referring to it as a serious precedent that requires immediate attention.
Michel acknowledged the immense potential of artificial intelligence in today’s world, but also emphasized the need to consider the potential dangers associated with it. He urged content publishers to take responsibility for their use of AI technology and not to shirk their duties.
Meanwhile, the founder of the chatbot has assured that his team is actively working to improve the safety of the AI.