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German Die Aktuelle Magazine Accused of Publishing a Fake Interview With Schumacher

Khadija Boufous Khadija Boufous
30th April 2023
German Die Aktuelle Magazine Accused of Publishing a Fake Interview With Schumacher
The alleged interview included AI-generated quotes (Getty)

A German magazine recently published an interview including AI-generated quotes attributed to former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.

The publisher of the Die Aktuelle weekly magazine, owned by Funke media group, apologized to Schumacher’s family. However, the wave of criticism over the piece led to the dismissal of the magazine’s editor. 

It is worth mentioning that Schumacher has not been seen in public since he suffered a brain injury during a skiing accident in 2013.

However, on April 15, 2023, Die Aktuelle published a smiling picture of the 54-year-old former champion on the front cover along with the headline: “Michael Schumacher, the first interview.” A subheading on the front cover reads: “It sounded deceptively real.”

The alleged interview was published on the 8th page of the magazine with the headline: “My life has changed completely.” It also included quotes attributed to Schumacher discussing his family life after the accident. 

It appeared, at the end of the article, that the interview was produced by AI, CNN reported.

For Funke’s managing director Bianca Pohlmann, the “tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared.” “It in no way meets the standards of journalism that we and our readers expect from a publisher like Funke,” she added.

Schumacher’s Family Protecting the Champion’s Privacy

Although the magazine’s apologied, the family of the seven-time Formula One champion announced they planned legal action. “I can confirm that Michael Schumacher’s family is planning to take legal action over a fake artificial intelligence interview by German outlet Die Aktuelle,” Schumacher’s spokesperson told CNN.

Since the accident in 2013, Michael Schumacher’s family has kept the updates about his health to the minimum to protect their privacy. However, in September 2021, his wife, Corinna Schumacher, discussed his condition in a Netflix documentary.

“We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable. And to simply make him feel our family, our bond,” she said.

“Private is private, as he always said. It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael,” she concluded.

The magazine previously won a court battle in 2015 with Corinna Schumacher after using her picture on the front cover with the headline: “Corinna Schumacher – a new love makes her happy.”

The story was about their daughter, Gina, but the lawsuit on the grounds of the cover being “misleading” was dismissed.

Another piece in the magazine, in 2014, put Michael and his wife on the front cover with the title “Awake,” even though the article was about individuals who have woken up from a coma, as opposed to Schumacher's case. 

Artificial Intelligence Invades Human Life

The alleged interview on Die Aktuelle raised profound questions about the use of AI in journalism and its standards. As AI software can generate several content formats, including text, images, voices, and videos, experts believe this is only getting started and expect more updates and evolution.

The different AI use also raised serious concerns about the replacement of human skills by machines and logarithms. Some people think many jobs may disappear and vanish, including journalism. However, others suppose nothing can replace the human ability to handle different situations requiring human intelligence and emotions. 

Moreover, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in distinct fields, including ChatGPT use, has revealed several problems and imperfections regarding issues related to ethics, privacy, and misinformation.

Misbar’s Sources: