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Artificial Intelligence for Science Communication: Acceptance and Lay People Comprehension

WorkgroupKnowledge Construction Lab
FundingSondertatbestand Data Science
Project description

How do we obtain scientific information? Who do we get it from? What if artificial intelligence could provide us with complicated topics and technical information in an easily understandable way? This research project investigates how lay people perceive and evaluate intelligent language assistants who communicate scientific information. In particular, it will investigate how different textual representations of automated content affect the acceptance and reception of scientific information.

Science and scientific information are essential components of a modern knowledge and media society. Decisions are often made on the basis of scientific findings, which is why science communication is of great importance in shaping beliefs and actions. Scientific information is omnipresent, it reaches people via almost all media and it is provided by a variety of stakeholders. Therefore it is of high practical relevance to investigate new methods for successful science communication.

Developments in digitisation and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) methods make it possible to analyse large amounts of scientific data. These scientific data and findings can be processed in such a way that they are available to the public without major barriers. AI tools that summarise scientific information and prepare it in an easily understandable way could thus have an important function in science communication. Text production programmes have been successfully used in the area of journalism for nearly a decade now, as they can analyse large amounts of data, aggregate relevant information and finally convert it into text without human intervention. Automating the writing of complex and extensive data with the help of AI therefore holds great potential for the communication of socially relevant scientific topics.

However, the question arises as to how well laypersons can deal with this automatically produced content. Do they understand that the information presented is based on larger amounts of individual information? Do they perceive the content to be automatically produced? Do people accept and trust these methods and the respective content? How do certain variations of AI process influence experience and behaviour?

Experimental studies examine how well laypeople understand the information prepared by an AI and how authentic they consider this type of science communication to be. In addition, the influence of such automatically prepared content on the acquisition of knowledge is being investigated. The acquired knowledge will help to show the chances and limits of AI-based science communication and to design these new methods in an optimal way.


Prof. Dr. Michael Bosnjak, ZPID