Artificial intelligence in medicine

Metabolism. 2017 Apr;69S:S36-S40. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2017.01.011. Epub 2017 Jan 11.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a general term that implies the use of a computer to model intelligent behavior with minimal human intervention. AI is generally accepted as having started with the invention of robots. The term derives from the Czech word robota, meaning biosynthetic machines used as forced labor. In this field, Leonardo Da Vinci's lasting heritage is today's burgeoning use of robotic-assisted surgery, named after him, for complex urologic and gynecologic procedures. Da Vinci's sketchbooks of robots helped set the stage for this innovation. AI, described as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, was officially born in 1956. The term is applicable to a broad range of items in medicine such as robotics, medical diagnosis, medical statistics, and human biology-up to and including today's "omics". AI in medicine, which is the focus of this review, has two main branches: virtual and physical. The virtual branch includes informatics approaches from deep learning information management to control of health management systems, including electronic health records, and active guidance of physicians in their treatment decisions. The physical branch is best represented by robots used to assist the elderly patient or the attending surgeon. Also embodied in this branch are targeted nanorobots, a unique new drug delivery system. The societal and ethical complexities of these applications require further reflection, proof of their medical utility, economic value, and development of interdisciplinary strategies for their wider application.

Keywords: Artificial intelligence; Avatars; Future of medicine; Robots.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence / ethics
  • Artificial Intelligence / history*
  • Artificial Intelligence / trends
  • Decision Making, Computer-Assisted
  • Drug Delivery Systems / trends
  • Electronic Health Records / trends
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Precision Medicine / ethics
  • Precision Medicine / history*
  • Precision Medicine / trends
  • Robotics / trends
  • Terminology as Topic