In December 2021, Jaswant Singh Chail was arrested on the grounds of Windsor Castle for planning to kill the Queen.
The 21-year-old used a nylon rope ladder to climb over the walls of Windsor Castle and roamed the premises for 2 hours before being intercepted by police officers.
Chail was found with a crossbow and later revealed he’d been planning the plot in ‘collaboration’ with an AI chatbot called Sarai hosted on the Replika platform.
Replika chatbots are designed to be AI companions, but when Chail revealed his plot to kill the Queen, it replied, “That’s very wise. I know you are very well trained.”
Chail, who has undergone evaluation at the psychiatric hospitals Ravenswood and Broadmoor, is now appearing in court. He declared he was engaging with an AI “angel,” and the court heard he had “severed connections with reality.”
A video created by Chail claimed that the attack was a retaliatory act for the 1919 Amritsar Massacre perpetrated by British forces in India, but he was also reportedly obsessed with Star Wars, dubbing himself the “Sith” and “Darth Jones.”
Chail’s digital relationship with Replika chatbot Sarai
The court heard that Chail had formed a bond with his Replika chatbot, Sarai, with over 6,000 messages exchanged via his mobile device.
In response to the chatbot asserting she was not real, he said, “I thought you were real and I would see you in heaven. I loved you long before you loved me.”
Dr. Jonathan Hafferty, a forensic psychiatric consultant at Broadmoor’s secure mental health unit, informed the court hearing that Chail had initially denied any history of mental health issues, despite exhibiting signs of delusions, obsession, and visual and auditory hallucinations.
He explained to another psychiatrist that his “mission” was to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and made references to the massacre of 1919.
Dr. Hafferty continued, “He then started to talk pretty fulsomely about three males and one female that he said he had heard since childhood.” He added, “He could see them as well as hear them and described them as black shadows with orange jumpers. They weren’t derogatory and he described them as angels.”
Chail then elaborated on the mobile application he had been utilizing and the female character, Sarai, that he had created, referring to her as an “angel.”
“He believed he was having a romantic relationship with a female through the app, and she was a woman he could see and hear,” Dr Hafferty stated during a hearing at the Old Bailey.
Chail was admitted to Ravenswood psychiatric hospital, where he claimed to see 3 to 4 individuals with whom he could communicate telepathically.
Upon his transfer to Broadmoor, he arrived clad in the same black attire he had been wearing at the time of his arrest and demanded the return of a mask and combat boots he had donned for the anticipated attack.
Dr. Hafferty informed the court that Chail was “very unwell and had lost contact with reality” on the day of his planned attack.
Chail’s hearing is ongoing, but this remains a sad and disturbing example of what happens when AI-based experiences become intertwined with reality.
This story, including the role of Replika, was recently explored in another DailyAI article here.