German publisher apologises for fake Schumacher AI interview

A German publisher has dismissed one of its magazine editors and apologised to the family of Michael Schumacher for publishing a fake interview with the Formula One great that was generated by artificial intelligence.

“This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared. It does not in any way correspond to the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publisher like Funke,” Funke magazines managing director Bianca Pohlmann said on Saturday.

Ms Pohlmann said Funke was firing the chief editor of Die Aktuelle magazine, where the so-called interview appeared, and the group apologised to Schumacher’s family.

Family spokesperson Sabine Kehm already told The Associated Press on Thursday that it was planning to take legal action over a “fake artificial intelligence interview by German outlet Die Aktuelle”.

Motor Racing – 2012 Formula One World Championship – British Grand Prix – Third Practice Session and Qualifying – Silverstone
Michael Schumacher during a practice session of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The F1 driver suffered severe injuries in a skiing accident in 2013 (Martin Rickett/PA)

The magazine also wrote “it sounds deceptively real” with the supposed quotes attributed to Schumacher generated by AI. Die Aktuelle is one of many tabloid celebrity magazines in Germany.

It was while skiing in the French Alps at Meribel that Schumacher fell in December 2013 and suffered a near-fatal brain injury. His head hit a rock which split open his helmet. Doctors removed blood clots but others were left untouched because they were too deeply embedded in his brain.

Since being transferred from hospital in September 2014, the seven-time F1 champion continues to be cared for privately at a family home in Switzerland.

Schumacher retired from F1 in 2012 after three seasons with Mercedes and was replaced on the team by Lewis Hamilton, who has matched Schumacher’s F1 titles record.

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