For Elon Musk, the term artificial intelligence conjures apocalyptic scenarios of autonomous robots wreaking destruction in a world dominated by hyper-intelligent machines. Stephen Hawking foresees a future in which smart machines replace sluggish humans across a range of activities, driving millions out of work.

Last month Bill Gates, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, imagined a gentler future – one with longer holidays and more free time. “The purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things,” he said.

We can all speculate about the future. Will.i.am, the Black Eyed Peas singer, has been promoting his first novel this week, an action adventure called WaR: Wizards and Robots.

Despite its title, he told an audience in Davos last month that artificial intelligence would be a force for good, narrowing the wealth gap between rich and poor countries. We must hope it can also narrow the health gap.

Healthcare provides especially fertile territory for these advances because of the sheer volume of medical knowledge. No clinician, however smart, can hope to master it. Read more from independent.co.uk…

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