The family of Michael Schumacher is reported to be planning legal action against a German magazine that presented an artificial intelligence-generated article as “the first” interview with the seven-time Formula 1 world champion since his 2013 skiing accident.
The news agency Reuters said it asked for comment on Wednesday and was pointed by a spokesperson for the Schumacher family to published reports of legal action.
Plans for action against Die Aktuelle, a weekly German gossip magazine, were confirmed by the family to ESPN.
Die Aktuelle led its most recent edition with a photo of Schumacher on the front cover with the headline “the first interview” and the accompanying strapline “it sounds deceptively real”.
The ‘interview’ was dominated over a double-page spread by the pull quote “my life has completely changed” and though it featured hints about its authenticity, it was still billed as an interview with Schumacher – until the revelation that it was generated by an AI chatbot.
Die Aktuelle does not specify which exact software was used, but the screenshots in the article feature an interface strongly reminiscent of character.ai, a programme based on “neural language models”, currently in beta. Its own description of its functionality is as follows: “A supercomputer reads huge amounts of text and learns to hallucinate what words might come next in any given situation. Models like these have many uses including auto-complete and machine translation. […] Needless to say, a hallucinating supercomputer is not a source of reliable information.”
Schumacher suffered a severe brain injury during a skiing accident in 2013 that left him in a medically-induced coma for six months.
He has not been seen in public since and his family has been strict about his privacy and offered only scarce updates, including in the 2021 Netflix documentary Schumacher.
Die Aktuelle has run other covers with Schumacher on that have caused outrage, including one in 2014 with him and wife Corinna pictured and the strapline ‘awoken’ that was instead about others who had awoken from comas in the past.
His wife also had a reported legal case at the Cologne Regional Court against three publications, including Die Aktuelle, that in 2014 had published pictures of her at the Grenoble hospital where Schumacher had been treated following the accident.