Artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented intelligence? How big data and AI are transforming healthcare: Challenges and opportunities


  • K Moodley Division of Medical Ethics and Law, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa





The sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship is deeply embedded in tradition – the Hippocratic oath, medical ethics, professional codes of conduct, and legislation – all of which are being disrupted by big data and ‘artificial’ intelligence (AI). The transition from paper-based records to electronic health records, wearables, mobile health applications and mobile phone data has created new opportunities to scale up data collection. Databases of unimaginable magnitude can be harnessed to develop algorithms for AI and to refine machine learning. Complex neural networks now lie at the core of ubiquitous AI systems in healthcare. A transformed healthcare environment enhanced by innovation, robotics, digital technology, and improved diagnostics and therapeutics is plagued by ethical, legal and social challenges. Global guidelines are emerging to ensure governance in AI, but many low- and middle-income countries have yet to develop context- specific frameworks. Legislation must be developed to frame liability and account for negligence due to robotics in the same way human healthcare providers are held accountable. The digital divide between high- and low-income settings is significant and has the potential to exacerbate health inequities globally.


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How to Cite

Moodley K. Artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented intelligence? How big data and AI are transforming healthcare: Challenges and opportunities. S Afr Med J [Internet]. 2023 Dec. 31 [cited 2024 Jul. 15];114(1):22-6. Available from:

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