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German Tabloid Criticised For Tasteless Michael Schumacher AI Interview

German Tabloid Criticised For Tasteless Michael Schumacher AI Interview
By Eoin Harrington Updated
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Michael Schumacher's health is one of the biggest questions on the minds of most motorsports fans these days, and has been ever since the racing legend's horrific skiing accident in late 2013.

Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident in Switzerland in December 2013, a year after his second and final retirement from Formula 1. He was placed into a medically induced coma in the weeks after his accident, and despite recovering sufficiently to return home to his family, has not been seen in public since.

Information on Schumacher's condition is scarce, on his family's request, and any information we have has been dripfed from third party sources over the nine years since the shocking accident.

This week, a German tabloid has firmly crossed the line of acceptable discourse surrounding his condition by published an utterly bizarre "interview" with the F1 legend, publicising it as "the first interview."

In reality, the feature in question is actually an interview conducted with an AI programme designed to impersonate celebrities, leading to widespread criticism of the publication of such a tasteless piece.

"The first interview": Crazy Michael Schumacher AI interview published in German magazine

Michael Schumacher remains one of the most respected and successful sportspeople of the 21st century. Best remembered for his glory days at Ferrari in the early 2000s, when he won five consecutive championships, he also won two F1 titles with Benetton in the mid-1990s.

He remains right up at the top of the F1 record books, tying the record for most drivers' titles with Lewis Hamilton - who has surpassed several of the German's records in recent years.


Recently, however, word on Schumacher's condition has been hard to come by. In the aftermath of his 2013 skiing accident, his family have protected his privacy, after he protected theirs throughout his long and illustrious racing career.

Naturally, any story about the 54-year-old's condition must be handled in a tasteful way - which is certainly not the bar met by German publication Die Aktuelle this week.


The gossip magazine published a front page headline titled "Michael Schumacher - The First Interview! World Sensation!"


The subtitle of the interview read, "It sounds deceptively real...Die Aktuelle went on a search for clues," giving a hint towards the article's true intentions.

In reality, rather than being a genuine interview with the Formula 1 hero, the magazine had instead programmed an AI bot to respond to questions as though it were Schumacher. UK newspaper Metro have suggested that the programme used was Charachter.AI - a programme which, in its own description, warns users not to trust what their "characters" respond with as truth.

The cheap feature piece includes lines from "Michael Schumacher" about his condition in the immediate aftermath of his accident, as well as the toll it took on his family.


It's a hugely disappointing way to approach such a sensitive and sad subject matter, summed up by the closing line in which crude speculation is made as to where the quotes "really" came from:

There are actually internet sites where you can have conversations with celebrities - but artificial intelligence provides the answers.

But how does this AI know the personal background? About marriage, children and illnesses? Someone must have entered the information on the internet, like in Wikipedia.

Though the subtitle on the front page does give some indication that the piece is not what it may initially seem, headlining a piece as "The First Interview" while using a large photo of Schumacher to accompany it seems like a pretty crude manner in which to prey on the eagnerness for updates on Schumacher's condition from sports fans.

More importantly, it is deeply insensitive towards the wishes of his family, and has left a sour taste in the mouth of most who have come across the story.

Michael Schumacher of Mercedes smiles to fans at the 2012 Australian Grand Prix (Photo: Shutterstock)

And, of course, it is gravely disrespectful to a sporting legend who continues to grapple with immense health issues.

The most recent update on his condition came last summer from family friend Jean Todt, who was Schumacher's team principal during his time at Ferrari. Speaking at an event to honour Schumacher in Germany, Todt said that he regularly watches F1 races in the company of Schumacher.

Michael Schumacher retired from Formula 1 in 2012, with seven world championships and 91 race wins to his name. His son Mick recently raced in F1 himself with Haas between 2021 and 2022, and now serves as reserve driver at Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team.

SEE ALSO: Balls Remembers: Jordan's Last Ever F1 Race Win

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