The family of Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher is preparing to take legal action against Die Aktuelle, a German tabloid magazine, for publishing an AI-generated “interview” with the star. The publication ran a front cover spread earlier this week promising an exclusive with Schumacher, accompanied by a tag referring to the piece as “the first interview” since the F1 star suffered a serious brain injury during a skiing accident in December 2013.
“No meager, nebulous half-sentences from friends,” reads the translated text on the magazine cover. “But answers from him! By Michael Schumacher, 54!” A strapline calling the interview “deceptively real” is the only indication on the cover that the piece wasn’t authentic. Die Aktuelle, in apparent jest, even questions if Schumacher had typed the answers himself from a hospital bed before finally admitting it had used Character.ai, an AI chatbot, to create the fake interview at the end of the article.
The fake interview features “Schumacher” describing his recovery following his 2013 skiing accident
Die Aktuelle has been slammed by other German publications and motorsport journalists for generating responses from “Schumacher” that insensitively describe his recovery following the 2013 skiing incident. “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,” reads one snippet of the fake interview (seen via The Independent). “I’ve had a tough time but the hospital team has managed to bring me back to my family.”
A spokesperson for the Schumachers confirmed their intention to pursue legal action against the publication to Reuters and ESPN. The record-breaking Formula 1 star won 91 Grand Prix races and seven world championship titles before retiring in 2012. Schumacher has not been seen in public since the 2013 skiing accident, and his family has taken great care to protect his privacy. A 2021 Netflix documentary confirms that he resides at home with his family, but his current medical condition is otherwise shrouded in secrecy.
This isn’t the first time that the Schumachers have taken action against Die Aktuelle. A lawsuit by the family was dismissed in 2015 after the magazine ran a cover story claiming his wife Corinna had found “a new love,” later revealed to be the couple’s daughter. A year prior, the magazine had published another cover story about people that have awoken from comas, featuring a picture of Michael and Corinna Schumacher with the misleading headline “Awake.”