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German Outlet’s AI-Generated Interview With Michael Schumacher Is Just Terrible

Artificial intelligence may have future uses but making up interviews with critically injured athletes who haven't spoken publicly in nearly a decade isn't one of them.
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Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher suffered a brain injury from a skiing incident in 2013. He hasn’t been seen publicly since, and his family has rarely discussed his condition. That’s why an apparent interview with Schumacher published by the German outlet Die Aktuelle initially drew so much attention. The reason it’s still in the news is because the quotes came from an artificial intelligence chatbot.

The cover story was titled, “Mein Leben hat sich total verändert,” or “My life has totally changed.” That, as well as several other lines attributed to Schumacher, seemed to indicate that the 54-year-old had broken his silence. The unidentified author even introduced the piece by saying, “Talk to him once. Ask him how he’s really doing. And finally got answers almost 10 years after his tragic skiing accident.”

It continues: “No meager, nebulous half-sentences from friends. But answers from him! By Michael Schumacher, 54! Here it is — the incredible interview! With redeeming answers to the most burning questions that the whole world has been asking for so long.”

As Race Fans points out, though, there’s fine print in the same two-page spread that discloses the use of AI: “Did Michael Schumacher really say everything himself? The interview was online. On a page that has to do with artificial intelligence, or AI for short.” Reportedly, the website c.ai was used to fake the interview and is commonly used to simulate conversations with celebrities.

The piece has been rejected en masse by the motorsports community, as was another Die Aktuelle story on Schumacher from 2014. Then, the tabloid shared an old photo of the driver with a heading that said, “He sits in the Sun!” which led readers to believe he was conscious and quickly recovering after his ski wreck.

Little is known about Schumacher’s current state, though close friend and former Ferrari F1 team principal Jean Todt said he was awake and watching racing on TV in 2019. A Netflix documentary on Schumacher’s life, including interviews with his immediate family, was released in 2021, though they opted against giving any updates on his health.

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