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Artificial intelligence and healthcare professional education: superhuman resources for health?
  1. Kieran Walsh
  1. London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kieran Walsh, London, UK; kmwalsh{at}

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The term artificial intelligence is used to describe computer programmes that learn and solve problems and so mimic the cognitive functions of human beings.1 Artificial intelligence has also been described as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages’.2 In the past 5 years, artificial intelligence has been cited as a potential solution to a range of different problems, from the regulation of financial systems to low-cost transport. So it is no surprise that artificial intelligence has also been suggested as a solution to problems in healthcare and healthcare professional education.3 It has even been suggested as a means by which healthcare professional education might be unnecessary. After all, if you have intelligent machines that can do the job of human beings, then some might ask if healthcare professionals are needed at all. Moreover, if they are not needed, then what is the point of healthcare professional education? Do we need human resources for health if we can have superhuman resources for health?

The short answer is this use case will only be true if artificial intelligence is a reliable and dependable means of delivering healthcare and/or education. Artificial intelligence certainly has potential in both domains. Certainly, artificial intelligence can do a better job of collecting objective data than humans, although what cognition and intelligence follows may differ (acknowledging that the differences between artificial intelligence and human intelligence is a highly complex subject). However, it is questionable whether artificial intelligence is currently ready to take over more than the most simple tasks. It certainly is taking over some simple tasks but is unlikely to be …

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  • Contributors KW conceived and wrote the entire piece and is responsible for the content.

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

  • Competing interests KW works for BMJ, which produces e-learning resources for healthcare professionals (such as BMJ Learning).

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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