Magazine Apologizes for AI Interview, Fires Editor

German publication presented story as an exclusive on Michael Schumacher
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2023 2:37 PM CDT
Updated Apr 23, 2023 10:30 AM CDT
Schumacher Family Plans Legal Action Over AI 'Interview'
In this Nov. 23, 2012 file photo, Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher, of Germany, sits in his car during a free practice at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Victor Caivano, File)
UPDATE Apr 23, 2023 10:30 AM CDT

The publisher of a German magazine has apologized for running an interview with former Formula 1 star Michael Schumacher that was produced by AI, then fired the editor responsible. The driver hasn't been seen in public for nearly a decade, since suffering head injuries in a skiing accident. "This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared," Bianca Pohlmann, managing director of Funke media group, said over the weekend, the BBC reports. The statement said Anne Hoffmann, the top editor since 2009, was being removed.

Apr 20, 2023 2:37 PM CDT

Formula One great Michael Schumacher didn't give an interview to German magazine Die Aktuelle, AI did. Now the seven-time F1 champ's family is ready to take legal measures over the piece, which was presented with the cover headline "Michael Schumacher, the First Interview"—and a subhead reading "It sounded deceptively real," reports Reuters. The article further asserts, "No meagre, nebulous half-sentences from friends. But answers from him! By Michael Schumacher, 54!" The family has been close-lipped about Schumacher since he suffered a major head injury while skiing in December 2013 that left him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak.

The interview, called "exclusive" on the cover only to be revealed inside the mag as having come from conversation with an artificially intelligent chatbot, has been called "disgraceful" by fans, according to the Independent. The interview "quotes" attributed to Schumacher were drawn from conversation with, reports the Independent, and included statements such as "My life has completely changed since [the accident]. That was a horrible time for my wife, my children and the whole family," and, "I was so badly injured that I lay for months in a kind of artificial coma, because otherwise my body couldn’t have dealt with it all. I’ve had a tough time but the hospital team has managed to bring me back to my family."

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Schumacher's wife Corinna tangled legally with Die Aktuelle in 2015 and lost after the magazine published what she thought was a misleading cover implying she had a new romance; the story inside was about her daughter, Gina. In a Netflix documentary released in 2021, Corinna explained that they are "trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives. 'Private is private,' as he always said." (More Michael Schumacher stories.)

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