What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence (or, AI for short), is the demonstration of qualities of human (natural) intelligence in machines. Today, computers have become extremely efficient at analyzing large quantities of data to learn how to carry out specific tasks. Machine learning (ML) is the subbranch of AI that centers around the development of these algorithms that learn and adapt with experience.
It can help to think of machine learning in (metaphorical) terms of the cognitive development of a newborn baby. While it can't be said that machine learning models learn in the same way the human brain does (machine learning models are constructed with mathematics, not biology), these models do try to imitate behaviors of human intelligence as much as possible.
For instance, parents of a newborn will teach their baby facts like its own name. This is called supervised learning, because the baby learns words by listening to you repeat them over and over again. Machine learning models try to mimic supervised learning behaviors by learning from training datasets.
When your baby discovers new things without your input it is called unsupervised learning. For example, a child creating their own artistic drawings is an act of discovery. When left with a set of paints, many children will learn on their own how to express their thoughts and feelings through art.
But what happens if your child decides to paint a pretty picture all over the wall of your home? You will tell them this is not ok and that they should not do that again! In machine learning this process is called reinforcement learning.
The ability of machines to learn and adapt is a central concept in artificial intelligence, much like it is for a child's cognitive development. Machines can crunch numbers so fast that given the right data and algorithm, this learning process can take place in a matter of seconds or minutes. Since healthcare involves making medical decisions based on a patient's health information (test results, genetics, medical history, past experiences with similar patients, etc.), there are many areas where AI can be used to improve the delivery of healthcare.