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The publishers of a German magazine that ran an 'interview' with Michael Schumacher generated by artificial intelligence have sacked the editor and apologised to the Formula One great's family.
Seven-times world champion Schumacher, now 54, has not been seen in public since he suffered a serious brain injury in a skiing accident on a family holiday in the French Alps in December 2013.
His family said this week that they were planning legal action against weekly magazine Die Aktuelle, owned by the Essen-based Funke media group.
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Funke apologised in a statement on their website.
Mercedes Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany stands inside his team garage during the first practice session of the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit October 5, 2012. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters Photos)
"This tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared. It in no way meets the standards of journalism that we – and our readers – expect from a publisher like Funke," said Funke magazines managing director Bianca Pohlmann.
"As a result of the publication of this article, immediate personnel consequences will be drawn.
"Die Aktuelle editor-in-chief Anne Hoffmann, who has held journalistic responsibility for the paper since 2009, will be relieved of her duties as of today."
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The latest edition of Die Aktuelle ran a front cover with a picture of a smiling Schumacher and the headline promising 'Michael Schumacher, the first interview'.
Mercedes Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany takes a curve during a training session at Circuit de Catalunya racetrack, in Montmelo, near Barcelona, February 21, 2012. (REUTERS/Albert Gea)
The strapline added: "it sounded deceptively real".
Inside, it emerged that the 'quotes' had been produced by AI.
Schumacher's family maintains strict privacy about the former driver's condition, with access limited to those closest to him.
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"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," Corinna Schumacher said in a 2021 Netflix documentary.
"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."