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Title Artificial Intelligence in Medicine - Where Do We Stand? (Editorial)
Author(s) William B. Schwartz; Ramesh S. Patil; Peter Szolovits
Source NEJM, Vol. 316, No. 11, Pages 685-688
Publication Date March 12, 1987
Abstract After hearing for several decades that computers will soon be able to assist with difficult diagnoses, the practicing physician may well wonder why the revolution has not occurred. Skepticism at this point is understandable. Few, if any, programs currently have active roles as consultants to physicians. The story behind these unfulfilled expectations is instructive and, we believe, offers hope for the future.

Research on computer-aided diagnosis began in the 1960's with high hopes that difficult clinical problems might yield to mathematical formalisms. Most work therefore centered on the application of flow charts, Boolean algebra, pattern matching, and decision analysis to the diagnostic process. Except in extremely narrow clinical domains, each of these techniques proved to have little or no practical value. Most observers came to believe that for a program to have expert capability, it must in some fashion mimic the behavior of experts. Early work on computer-aided diagnosis was thus largely discarded, and in the early 1970's attention shifted to the study of the actual problem-solving behavior of experienced clinicians. The resulting insights have subsequently been used to construct models of clinical problem solving that, in turn, have been converted into so-called artificial intelligence programs or expert systems.

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