Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and techniques have useful purposes in just about every domain of behavioral and mental health care including clinical decision-making, treatments, assessment, self-care, healthcare management, research and more. This introductory chapter provides an overview of AI and includes definitions of common terms and concepts to provide a foundation for what is discussed in subsequent chapters. Recent technological innovations are highlighted to demonstrate emerging capabilities and forthcoming opportunities. The benefits of the use of AI in mental health care are also discussed.
Artificial intelligence (AI) based tools hold potential to extend the current capabilities of clinicians, to deal with complex problems and ever-expanding information streams that stretch the limits of human ability. In contrast to previous generations of AI and expert systems, these approaches are increasingly dynamical and less computationalist – less about “rules” and more about leveraging the dynamic interplay of action and observation over time. The (treatment) choices we make change what we observe (clinically, or otherwise), which changes future choices, which affects future observations, and so forth. As humans (clinicians or otherwise), we leverage this fact every day to act “intelligently” in our environment. To best assist us, our clinical computing tools should approximate the same process. Such an approach ties to future developments across the broader healthcare space, e.g., cognitive computing, smart homes, and robotics.