Editor of German magazine which published Michael Schumacher’s AI interview sacked

‘This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared’

Rituparna Chatterjee
Sunday 23 April 2023 06:50 BST

The editor-in-chief of a German magazine that used an artificial intelligence programme to produce fake quotes from Michael Schumacher has been sacked.

“This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared. It in no way meets the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect,” said Bianca Pohlmann, managing director of Funke media group which publishes the Die Aktuelle magazine.

The magazine was labelled “disgraceful” by fans online for depicting the AI responses as an “exclusive interview” on their 15 April front cover.

“As a result of the publication of this article, immediate personnel consequences will be drawn. Die Aktuelle editor-in-chief Anne Hoffmann, who has held journalistic responsibility for the paper since 2009, will be relieved of her duties as of today,” Ms Pohlmann said.

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has not been seen publicly since suffering a near-fatal brain injury while skiing in December 2013 in Meribel, France. His wife Corinna has insisted on protecting Schumacher’s privacy in the nine years since, with his medical condition shrouded in secrecy as he continues to recover at home in Switzerland.

The magazine stated that it was “the first interview” Schumacher has given since his accident, adding: “No meagre, nebulous half-sentences from friends. But answers from him! By Michael Schumacher, 54!”

The article, produced using a programme called charatcter.ai, had the quotes: “I can with the help of my team actually stand by myself and even slowly walk a few steps.”

“My wife and my children were a blessing to me and without them I would not have managed it. Naturally they are also very sad, how it has all happened.

“They support me and are standing firmly at my side.”

The “interview”, titled “My Life Has Completely Changed”, was slammed by his fans worldwide, with the Schumacher family saying they planned to take Die Aktuelle and Funke Media Group to court.

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