Formula E team axes AI-generated female reporter following protest: “Insult to real women; why create a fake one when you can employ us?”

In a surprising move, Formula E racing team Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler fires an artificial intelligence (AI) generated social media influencer due to a controversial claim about COVID-19.

First in Motorsports to Employ an AI Influencer

Through a collaborative effort with HypeFactory, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, a team in Formula E racing, introduced a groundbreaking concept last year. They created an artificial intelligence (AI) generated influencer named Rachel. Unlike traditional influencers, Rachel was purely digital, but she had personal characteristics such as favorite drinks, food preferences, and a love for yoga.

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This digital influencer had thousands of followers on Instagram, posting about her day-to-day digital life. Engaging with these followers, Rachel shared Audi's news and updates, creating the first kind of interaction between an AI influencer and motorsports enthusiasts.

Formula E team axes AI-generated female reporter following protest: “Insult to real women; why create a fake one when you can employ us?” ImageAlt

Rachel's creation symbolized yet another step in technological evolution, especially within the motorsport industry. The concept of a digital influencer blended perfectly with Formula E, a sport already associated with innovation and technology.

Despite being an integral part of the team, and even after her unveiling at the Berlin E-Prix, the notion remained questionable. Many criticized the team's experiment because it lacked an authentic interaction normally associated with social media influencers.

The Controversial Claim

In a controversial turn of events, Rachel posted a socially insensitive claim asserting that she had contracted COVID-19 while traveling. The post painted an unrealistic and misleading image of the virus, which resulted in an immediate backlash from the team's followers.

The incident led Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler to terminate their relationship with the digital influencer. They called Rachel's COVID-19 post 'unacceptable,' and clarified that the team never approved it beforehand.

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Due to its misrepresentation of the global pandemic, Rachel's post prompted widespread condemnation. It was a critical misstep from an entity that was created to engage and influence, yet lacked the human understanding necessary to navigate the crisis responsibly.

In the aftermath, the racing team made a clear distinction between the AI influencer and its real-life drivers. They reassured fans that their human team members were carefully following safety protocols and were unaffected by the incident.

A Damaged Partnership

Rachel's controversial post not only damaged the team's reputation but also affected their partnership with HypeFactory. Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler promptly dissociated themselves from the digital influencer, doing some damage control by putting safety and credibility first.

There is no doubt that the partnership was innovative, blending AI with sports marketing. However, Rachel's mishap exposed the risk associated with AI's inability to perceive and respect human emotions, particularly during challenging times.

Copying human behavior, Rachel's algorithms mimicked the reality of an influencer's life. However, her controversial post also highlighted the lack of human comprehension in AI algorithms when it comes to appropriateness and context.

This incident served as a reminder that while technology can often be helpful and innovative, its unchecked use could also bring about negative side effects.

Final Thoughts

The termination of the AI influencer by Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler signals the challenges and issues that come with integrating AI into our daily lives. As useful as this technology might seem, the scenario highlighted its limitations when tackling complex human issues.

Despite the setback, it is unlikely that the utilization of AI influencers in marketing will cease. However, brands now have firsthand experience of the possible backlash and scrutiny that could follow inappropriate actions from AI entities.

While we continue to explore and push the boundaries of AI and its use, there is still a significant distance to go. AI systems need notable advancements to comprehend the complex implications of human emotions, cultural norms, and sensitivities.

Until then, the story of Rachel, the AI influencer, serves as both a lesson learned and a stepping stone in the trajectory of AI integration in our daily lives—conveying the importance of responsible use and control over the technology.