German tabloid Die Aktuelle published an article in its April 15 issue that purported to be an interview with seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher. Only at the end there is a disclaimer that this is a fake, which is the result of the Character.ai chatbot. The German athlete’s family told ESPN they plan to file a lawsuit against the magazine.
The article promised a “first interview” with Schumacher, who suffered a serious brain injury during a family ski trip in the French Alps in 2013. Since then, the legendary athlete, one of the most outstanding drivers of Formula 1, has not appeared in public – his family carefully guards his personal life.
It is known that Michael Schumacher continues to undergo therapy, but there are almost no details about this. His wife Corinna said in the Netflix documentary Schumacher: “Michael is here. Different, but he’s here, and that gives us strength, I find.” She continued, “We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable, and to simply make him feel our family, our bond.” Concluding, she stated, “We’re trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives. ‘Private is private,’ as he always said.”
As for Die Aktuelle magazine, the editors put a photo of a smiling Schumacher on the front page, adding the caption “First interview! Michael Schumacher.” The subtitle on the cover translates to “It sounds deceptively real”. The publication also promises “No meagre, nebulous half-sentences from friends. But answers from him!”
Tabloids that similarly test the limits of artificial intelligence are only the tip of the iceberg. Generative AI is developing rapidly, so it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate truth from fiction. Without clear legislative and regulatory boundaries, AI can be used for propaganda and disinformation, and the question remains how effective these countermeasures by governments and technology companies will be.