Schumacher family compensated for fake AI interview

The family of Michael Schumacher has won €200,000 ($254,000) in compensation from a magazine that ran an AI-generated interview with the multi-time Formula 1 champion.

The German publication Die Aktuelle ran a cover story last year that suggested the magazine secured an exclusive interview with the racer, who has not been seen in public since he suffered a brain injury during a skiing incident in 2013.

The cover featured the big headline reading, “Michael Schumacher: the first interview,” and words saying, “world sensation.” Below, the smaller print read, “it sounded deceptively real.”

The fabricated interview was similarly ambiguous, clarifying only at the very end that the answers were generated by an AI chatbot.

It also implied the interview could be real, claiming: “Was it Schumi himself who typed in the information from his sickbed? Or was it someone in the family, a nurse, or an employee?”

The fake interview caused public outrage and was slammed as “disgusting” by critics. The German Press Council, an ethics watchdog, said after the article was published: “This severe deception of readers is likely to damage the credibility of the press."

Schumacher’s family sued Funke Media Group, the magazine’s publishers, which apologized and stated that “this tasteless and misleading article should have never been published.”

The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anne Hoffmann, was fired two days after the publication of the interview. Hoffmann sued the publisher over her termination and won the case in the Munich labor court, according to the ruling obtained by Übermedien online magazine.

The ruling stated that Hoffmann’s dismissal was disproportionate. The Funke Media Group has appealed the decision.

The court ruling also mentioned the payment to the Schumacher family. The family’s spokesperson confirmed the judgment against the publishers of Die Aktuelle to the news agency Reuters.