The editor-in-chief of German tabloid magazine Die Aktuelle has been fired after a recent issue claimed to have an ‘interview’ with seven-time World Champion, Michael Schumacher, but the answers were in fact generated by artificial intelligence.
The magazine published an edition this week with a picture of the Formula 1 legend under the banner headline “Michael Schumacher, The First Interview, World Sensation”, while writing in finer print underneath: “It sounds deceptively real.”
This piece, written using fake answers from an AI chatbot, prompted widespread criticism of the magazine, given Schumacher has not made a public appearance since a skiing accident at the end of 2013 and news of his condition is held with the utmost privacy by his family.
It was confirmed in the aftermath of the piece being published that the Schumacher family would be looking to take legal action against Die Aktuelle, and Funke Magazines, its publishing group, has since taken the step of relieving editor-in-chief Anne Hoffmann of her duties on Friday, while also apologising to Schumacher’s loved ones.
Funke managing director, Bianca Pohlmann heavily criticised the article and its appearance on the front cover of Die Aktuelle.
“This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared. It in no way corresponds to the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publisher like Funke,” she said in a statement.
Schumacher’s wife, Corinna, offered a brief insight into her husband’s condition through the Netflix documentary, Schumacher, which detailed the seven-time World Champion’s Formula 1 career.
But in doing so, she explained that the privacy he helped keep around his family while away from the public eye is merely being continued while he is living his life in a “different” way following his injuries.
“Michael is here. Different, but he’s here, and that gives us strength, I find,” she said during the documentary.
“We’re together. We live together at home, we do therapy, 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.
“And no matter what, I will do everything I can. We all will.
“We’re 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.
“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.”