Testing AI Tools: JECT.AI

With the "Deus Ex Mach­ina? — Test­ing AI Tools"-series we want to show you dif­fer­ent tools, that aim to sim­pli­fy writ­ing, design and research by using Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence. More on the "Deus Ex Machina?"-series can be found here.


"AI-powered intel­li­gence for journ­al­ists" is what the AI tool JECT.AI is sup­posed to offer. JECT.AI prom­ises to help users broaden their hori­zons, adopt new per­spect­ives and thus cre­ate more diverse and high­er-qual­ity con­tent — espe­cially in the field of sci­ence journalism.

To this end, JECT.AI provides users with vari­ous applic­a­tion options. Its core ele­ment is an AI-based search engine that sug­gests art­icles, journ­al­ists and sci­ent­ists for the sci­ence top­ics users searched for, thus provid­ing a broad and detailed over­view of cur­rent research and report­ing on this top­ic. Five fil­ters allow users to tail­or the res­ults to their own needs. In addi­tion to gen­er­al con­tent, users can search spe­cific­ally for facts and fig­ures, cent­ral char­ac­ters, back­ground inform­a­tion and devel­op­ments. For example, if you enter the term "plan­et­ary bound­ar­ies", the search engine com­piles the fol­low­ing res­ults, graded accord­ing to related art­icles and sub­ject areas, sci­ent­ists and journ­al­ists, as well as pos­sible com­bin­a­tions of top­ics. These res­ults can be fur­ther tailored, for example, if a spe­cial focus is to be placed on facts and figures.

Screen view of the JECT.AI search engine function. The search bar at the top contains the term planetary boundarries. Below this, search results can be read in three adjacent columns. The left column says: "JECT has discovered more than 343 related stories". Below are different coloured terms as keywords: Earth, Nasa, Artificial Intelligence etc. 
In the middle column it says: "JECT.AI has discovered related people, balanced by gender and ethnicity". 
Below this, in grey tiles, are various names of scientists and journalists.
The right column reads: "JECT.AI has identified interesting combinations of topics to think about".  
Below this, again in coloured tiles, are keywords such as: NASA, USA Today, Pluto, Mars, etc.
Image 1: The AI-based search engine with the five fil­ter options and first res­ults using the search term "plan­et­ary bound­ar­ies" as an example.

In addi­tion to the search engine, JECT.AI offers its users five oth­er tools to help com­mu­nic­ate sci­ence bet­ter. Under "Sci­ence Audi­ences", for example, the tool bundles exem­plary address­ees of sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion, which journ­al­ists can use as pro­to­types for their read­ers. In addi­tion, com­mon meta­phors that reappear in one of the three main sci­ence fields that JECT.AI focuses on, storytelling roles, explan­a­tions of how sci­ence works and indic­at­ors of good sci­ence journ­al­ism can be found among these tools. They are all stat­ic con­tent and have not been fur­ther mod­i­fied since the release of JECT.AI.

To use JECT.AI, all you need to do is register using your email address and a pass­word. The basic ver­sion is free of charge, but the com­pany offers addi­tion­al ser­vices and exten­sions on request, which are sub­ject to a fee.

The AI behind the application

JECT.AI emerged as a tool from the EU-fun­ded pro­ject: QUEST (QUal­ity and Effect­ive­ness in Sci­ence and Tech­no­logy com­mu­nic­a­tion) and is now run as a start-up by its developers Prof. Neil Maid­en and Dr. Kon­stanti­nos Zachos. The aim of QUEST — which phased out in sum­mer 2021 — was to improve the quant­ity and qual­ity of sci­ence journ­al­ism, par­tic­u­larly in the three focus areas of cli­mate change, vac­cin­a­tions and arti­fi­cial intelligence.

Accord­ing to the developers, JECT.AI was developed togeth­er with journ­al­ists and adap­ted again and again to fit their needs. Every day, the AI reads more than 1000 newly pub­lished art­icles from over 400 sources (papers, journ­als, news­pa­pers, etc.) in six European lan­guages (as of 2021) and exam­ines them for their sci­entif­ic con­tent. Diversity plays an import­ant role in the AI algorithm. It is trained to present the broad­est pos­sible spec­trum of res­ults. If, for example, 20 sci­ent­ists are out­put who are research­ing a spe­cif­ic area of a top­ic, JECT.AI ensures that at least 10 of them are FLINTA* (women, les­bi­ans, inter­sex, non-bin­ary, trans and agender per­sons). In oth­er words, belong­ing to groups that are under­rep­res­en­ted in main­stream soci­ety and academia.

How­ever, the com­pany does not provide any inform­a­tion on which data set the search engine accesses or wheth­er it has been optim­ised again since its pub­lic­a­tion in 2021. The AI on which the search algorithm is based and the data used to train it is also not dis­closed on the JECT.AI website.

The rhetorical potential of the tool

JECT.AI is aimed at journ­al­ists who are sup­posed to write about sci­ence but have no in-depth sci­entif­ic expert­ise. The tool is designed to help them cre­ate high-qual­ity con­tent and make sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion more access­ible. It helps to find inform­a­tion, know­ledge and con­tacts that facil­it­ate the pro­cess of cre­at­ing inform­at­ive art­icles on sci­ence topics.

Rhet­or­ic­ally, besides the search engine, which is rel­ev­ant for find­ing top­ics and inform­a­tion, the pre­pared fea­tures are par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing. The per­so­nas sum­mar­ised under "Sci­ence Audi­ences", for example, which rep­res­ent the address­ees of sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion, their atti­tudes and needs, are inten­ded to help journ­al­ists write more spe­cific­ally for these groups of address­ees. These per­so­nas indic­ate, for example, which sci­entif­ic know­ledge, pre­ferred media or forms of inter­ac­tion apply to cer­tain tar­get groups. Journ­al­ists can take these per­so­nas as a mod­el and adapt their writ­ing to them so that their com­mu­nic­a­tion meas­ures are as effect­ive as pos­sible for the inten­ded tar­get group.

Das Bild zeigt nebeneinander drei Spalten, die jeweils untereinander das Foto einer Person, eine Beschreibung der Einstellung in einer grauen Kachel am rechten unteren Bildrand der Fotos, sowie einen kurzen Beschreibungstext und verschiedene Schlagworte in Gelben Kacheln enthalten. 
Die linke Spalte zeigt das Foto eines älteren, indischen Mannes. Die Beschreibung lautet Disengaged.

Die Mittlere Spalte zeigt das Bild eines jungen Mannes, dessen Beschreibung Sciencephile lautet.

Das rechte Bild Zeigt eine junge Frau, die mit den Worten Critically interested beschrieben wird. 

Unter jedem Bild findet sich eine kurze Charakterisierung der Personen zu den Lebensumständen, wissenschaftlichen Vorkenntnissen und Mediengewohnheiten.
Image 2: Three of the fleshed-out per­so­nas, which are sup­posed to serve as com­mu­nic­a­tion aids for the cre­ation of sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion pieces.

The pre­pared meta­phors and storytelling sug­ges­tions also help to build tar­geted lin­guist­ic images and nar­rat­ives that are sus­tain­able and con­vin­cingly con­vey the sci­entif­ic content.

The search engine can be used to fil­ter out com­mon topoi and nar­rat­ives on indi­vidu­al top­ics. This fea­ture can be instru­ment­al­ized to make one's own journ­al­ist­ic con­tri­bu­tions more inter­est­ing and impress­ive through new per­spect­ives and more diverse points of view. The pos­sib­il­ity to get in touch with oth­er journ­al­ists and sci­ent­ists offers users of JECT.AI the chance to col­lect and sub­sequently com­mu­nic­ate inform­a­tion of high­er qual­ity through exchange. This increases the qual­ity of the con­tent and the logic­al per­suas­ive­ness of the con­tri­bu­tions. Espe­cially in sub­ject areas that are less access­ible to address­ees and require a great deal of expert­ise (as is usu­ally the case in sci­ence), the author­ity of an expert — such as a sci­ent­ist — can cre­ate trust.

How­ever, the rhet­or­ic­al poten­tial of JECT.AI remains lim­ited out­side of the search engine func­tion. The built-in fea­tures offer per­so­nas, meta­phors and nar­rat­ives that cov­er the three sci­entif­ic fields of vac­cin­a­tion, cli­mate change and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence at a bas­al level, but do not go deep­er. There is a lack of terms that are less com­mon and a lack of cur­rency. Since the tools release, these fea­tures have not been expan­ded, which means that changes in dis­course, such as new terms or nar­rat­ives, are not reflec­ted in it. Indi­vidu­ally adapt­ing and com­mu­nic­at­ing to a spe­cif­ic audi­ence at a spe­cif­ic time is a core ele­ment of any suc­cess­ful com­mu­nic­a­tion. Due to the lack of agil­ity and top­ic­al­ity of the tool, exactly this can­not be ensured. The algorithm also does not adapt to the user and some­times deliv­ers inap­pro­pri­ate res­ults. When search­ing for the keyword "Friendly AI", for example, the 12 most rel­ev­ant res­ults returned for this keyword ranged from new devel­op­ments in arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence research to an art­icle on football.

Usage in science communication

Das Bild zeigt im Oberen viertel eine Landschaftsaufnahme mit Wald und blauem Himmel. Darunter steht The Lungs of the Earth, sowie eine Beschreibung zur Verwendung dieser Metapher. Im unteren Viertel des Bildes finden sich in gelben Kacheln die Schlagwörter: Trees, CO2, CO2 absorbtion, Human lungs, CO2, Breathing to live. Die Kachel CO2 absorbtion ist angeklickt und erscheint grau. Über der Kachel Ausgeklappt ist ein kleiner Informationstext, der das zweite untere Viertel des Bildes einnimmt. Darin steht: CO2 Absorbtion: How well does the CO2 absorbtion map to the themes in your story? Are there other similar concepts that might work better?
"The lungs of the Earth" as an example for one of the most com­monly used meta­phors in sci­ence communication.

Basic­ally, JECT.AI is well suited for use in sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion. It can facil­it­ate research pro­cesses, estab­lish con­tacts and, in the pro­cess, ensure that sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion becomes a little more diverse and, above all, less pre­sup­posed. The­or­et­ic­ally, users do not even need a basic sci­entif­ic under­stand­ing of the tool's focus top­ics (AI, vac­cin­a­tions, cli­mate change), but can use JECT.AI to learn the basics of the neces­sary con­tent, as well as to get help with com­mon for­mu­la­tions with­in a them­at­ic dis­course. In the sci­entif­ic field of "cli­mate", for example, one finds the meta­phor of (rain)forests as the "lungs of the earth". JECT.AI explains the con­text of the meta­phor and how it can be used as accur­ately as pos­sible in an art­icle or post. At the same time, keywords related to a spe­cif­ic top­ic are also provided, which can be used to col­lect and dis­play fur­ther information.

The net­work­ing poten­tial for journ­al­ists and sci­ent­ists that the applic­a­tion holds is also quite extensive.

The lack of flex­ib­il­ity and breadth of the research areas covered (so far only the three focus top­ics men­tioned above are covered) lim­its the actu­al poten­tial of the tool. For young journ­al­ists and new­comers to sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion, how­ever, JECT.AI can be a good start­ing point — albeit exclus­ively for writ­ten sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion, since JECT.AI does not offer more than tex­tu­al con­tent sup­port. The tool com­pletely excludes cre­at­ive ele­ments and their com­mu­nic­at­ive poten­tial. The same applies to dif­fer­ent media and chan­nels of writ­ten sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion. There is no pos­sib­il­ity to tail­or the res­ults and fea­tures to wheth­er, for example, writ­ing is done for news­pa­pers, social media or blogs.


The idea behind JECT.AI to sim­pli­fy the pro­duc­tion of sci­ence journ­al­ism, provide net­work­ing oppor­tun­it­ies and map diversity in research are use­ful start­ing points for sci­ence com­mu­nic­a­tion work. The tool offers resources and ideas that can help journ­al­ists write dif­fer­en­ti­ated texts, even if they do not have a sci­entif­ic back­ground them­selves or are new to a top­ic. The tool itself lacks pol­ish, flex­ib­il­ity, indi­vidu­al­ity adapt­ab­il­ity and con­stant fur­ther devel­op­ment of the tools with­in the tool and the algorithm. Nev­er­the­less, it is a good aid for research­ing and pro­du­cing sci­ence journ­al­ism, but still leaves the main work to the writers. It is suit­able for any­one who com­mu­nic­ates or is inter­ested in sci­ence, regard­less of age or level of knowledge.