Part I: Artificial Intelligence: The Basics

This is the first of a three-part series on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in biomedicine. Part I includes an introduction to AI, its definitions, WashU announcements and policies, and resources; Part II will provide an overview of select AI tools for scholarly literature; and Part III will focus on authorship issues related to AI and publishing.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Per Oxford English dictionary (OED), AI is the “capacity of computers or other machines to exhibit or simulate intelligent behaviour.” The term was added to the OED in 1955. There are many types of AI such as Large Language Models (LLMs), Machine Learning (ML), Generative AI, and others, with Generative AI growing in interest over the past year.  See: Difference between AI, ML, LLM and Generative AI. Per Washington University in St. Louis Information Technology (WUIT), “Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can learn from and mimic large amounts of data to create content such as text, images, music, videos, code, and more, based on inputs or prompts.”

Generative AI is now used for many tasks such as generating text content, audio, music or images; answering questions and providing references; translation; performing systematic reviews; among others. Generative AI is also being utilized in medical settings to improve healthcare and delivery. AI clinical decision support and imaging analysis tools can diagnose disease; detect cancer cells; manage and analyze healthcare data; to name a few.

However, there are ethical and legal issues related to the use of AI. Issues such as trust, privacy, disinformation, copyright, authorship, and inequities pose challenges with establishing best practices for use of AI. Lack of regulations and best practices prompted The White House to issue a Presidential Order on October 30, 2023 on AI: Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence. The Executive Order establishes new standards for AI safety and security to manage the risks of AI.

Below are resources to learn more about AI.

WashU Announcements and Policies

The announcement cautions readers that AI is a rapidly evolving technology and includes guidelines for the responsible and secure use of AI tools.

The announcement provides background on AI and includes recommendations for instructors using AI tools.

The post was published in Research News on July 11, 2023 and includes guidance for researchers who use AI technologies in their research.

The Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) page includes definitions of AI and related technologies, guidance as to using AI, and resources such as how to cite AI technologies.

The ChatGPT and AI Composition Tools page includes information about AI tools and their implications for teaching and learning. The Center for Teaching and Learning will update the page on a regular basis.



The Artificial Intelligence and Academic Medicine collection features articles related to AI from the admissions process to conducting and publishing research. The collection will be updated on a regular basis and there is a Collection Alert option to be alerted when a new article is added to the collection.

The Artificial Intelligence collection from PubMed features articles and preprints tagged with the MeSH term of Artificial Intelligence or containing the phrase of Artificial Intelligence.

The Artificial Intelligence and Washington University School of Medicine collection in Research Profiles features AI-related research authored by Washington University School of Medicine researchers.


  • Joshi AV. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence [electronic resource]. 2nd ed. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2023. The 2nd edition of this book has been revised for classroom or training use. Chapters include: Introduction to AI and ML; Essential Concepts in AI and ML; and others.

See a full listing of books on AI in our collection: Becker Medical Library Catalog link to AI books.


The NYT AI collection offers news related to AI, applications and issues. A NYT subscription is available to all WashU faculty, staff and students. See: Expanded New York Times Access Now Available, for guidance.

ScienceDaily offers news on AI on a daily basis.

The STAT+ Generative AI Tracker is a tool to track generative AI applications that are closest to reaching patients, including those that health systems have publicly acknowledged are in pilot or production. Students, staff and faculty currently affiliated with the School of Medicine or at the medical center have access to STAT+, and must use their email to register for STAT+. See:  STAT+ access now available on the Medical Campus, for guidance.