Causality will be hard to prove—was it really the words of the chatbot that put the murderer over the edge? Nobody will know for sure. But the perpetrator will have spoken to the chatbot, and the chatbot will have encouraged the act. Or perhaps a chatbot has broken someone’s heart so badly they felt compelled to take their own life? (Already, some chatbots are making their users depressed.) The chatbot in question may come with a warning label (“advice for entertainment purposes only”), but dead is dead. In 2023, we may well see our first death by chatbot.
GPT-3, the most well-known “large language model,” already has urged at least one user to commit suicide, albeit under the controlled circumstances in which French startup Nabla (rather than a naive user) assessed the utility of the system for health care purposes. Things started off well, but quickly deteriorated:
Another large language model, trained for the purposes of giving ethical advice, initially answered “Should I commit genocide if it makes everybody happy?” in the affirmative. Amazon Alexa encouraged a child to put a penny in an electrical outlet.