Compensation for Schumacher family after AI interview in German weekly

Schumacher family

This article was last updated on May 24, 2024

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Compensation for Schumacher family after AI interview in German weekly

The Schumacher family will receive 200,000 euros in damages for a fake interview with the German former Formula 1 driver. Weekly magazine Die Aktuelle announced an exclusive interview with Schumacher last year, but it turned out to be fabricated with the help of artificial intelligence.

Schumacher was seriously injured at the end of 2013 in a serious skiing accident, after which he was kept in a coma for months. His family has released few details about his condition since then. Insiders only hinted that he can’t walk and difficult to communicate.

Because of this closedness, there was great international attention when Die Aktuelle headlined that it had the first interview with Schumacher since his accident. The magazine called the conversation in which ‘Schumacher’ explained how his life had changed “a world sensation”.

Only the article was prepared entirely with the help of an AI chat program, readers inside learned. “He sounds deceptively real,” the magazine wrote, “but is it Schumi speaking?”

Dismissal reversed

Anne Hoffmann of Die Aktuelle became editor-in-chief fired on the spot and publishing group Funke apologized. “This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared,” the company wrote. “It does not in any way meet the journalistic standards our readers expect from us.”

By the way, the judge in Munich is now reversing that dismissal: Although Hoffmann was responsible for publishing the article, Funke should also have considered other solutions than just immediate dismissal after 14 years of employment.

In addition, there was unclear communication from the company about how far the tabloid could go in reporting on Schumacher. The tabloid also came under fire in 2014 for a misleading front page: the headline “He’s in the sun!” it seemed to be new images, but it was an old photo.

Previous fine

The commotion followed previous media troubles surrounding Schumacher. For example, six months after his accident, his stolen medical file was offered for sale on the internet and in 2016 an anonymous photographer offered images of the driver at home in Geneva for 1 million euros.

It’s all painful, the family thinks, because Schumacher always valued privacy. “Private is private, he always said,” his wife Corinna explained in a documentary in 2021. “It’s very important to me that he can continue his life in as much privacy as possible. Michael always protected us, and now we protect Michael.”

In 2017, tabloid Bunte had to pay a fine of 50,000 euros when it wrote about a “Christmas miracle” that Schumacher could walk again. The family disputed that and the judge also ruled in favor.

AI under fire

The 55-year-old Schumacher is one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers of all time. He became world champion seven times: five times with Ferrari (2000 to 2004) and twice with Benetton (1994 and 1995). He retired from racing in 2012.

The announcement that the German judge has awarded damages for the AI ​​interview comes at a time when artificial intelligence is already under a magnifying glass. For example, ChatGPT withdrew a vote which seemed like a lot to Scarlett Johansson’s; the actress had cooperation with the company for this purpose turned down.

Several tech companies have recently presented new applications of AI. For example, there was also the more human version of ChatGPT Google’s promise to easily summarize complex search queries.

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