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Medicine and the rise of the robots: a qualitative review of recent advances of artificial intelligence in health
  1. Erwin Loh
  1. Correspondence to Professor Erwin Loh, Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3168, Victoria, Australia; erwin.loh{at}


Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to significantly transform the role of the doctor and revolutionise the practice of medicine. This qualitative review paper summarises the past 12 months of health research in AI, across different medical specialties, and discusses the current strengths as well as challenges, relating to this emerging technology. Doctors, especially those in leadership roles, need to be aware of how quickly AI is advancing in health, so that they are ready to lead the change required for its adoption by the health system. Key points: ‘AI has now been shown to be as effective as humans in the diagnosis of various medical conditions, and in some cases, more effective.’ When it comes to predicting suicide attempts, recent research suggest AI is better than human beings. ‘AI’s current strength is in its ability to learn from a large dataset and recognise patterns that can be used to diagnose conditions, putting it in direct competition with medical specialties that are involved in diagnostic tests that involve pattern recognition, such as pathology and radiology’. The current challenges in AI include legal liability and attribution of negligence when errors occur, and the ethical issues relating to patient choices. ‘AI systems can also be developed with, or learn, biases, that will need to be identified and mitigated’. As doctors and health leaders, we need to start preparing the profession to be supported by, partnered with, and, in future, potentially be replaced by, AI and advanced robotics systems.

  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • neural networks
  • robotics
  • automation

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  • Contributors EL planned, conducted and submitted the study.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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