The burgeoning field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to profoundly impact the public’s health. Yet, to make the most of this opportunity, decision-makers must understand AI concepts. In this article, we describe approaches and fields within AI and illustrate through examples how they can contribute to informed decisions, with a focus on population health applications. We first introduce core concepts needed to understand modern uses of AI and then describe its sub-fields. Finally, we examine four sub-fields of AI most relevant to population health along with examples of available tools and frameworks. Artificial intelligence is a broad and complex field, but the tools that enable the use of AI techniques are becoming more accessible, less expensive, and easier to use than ever before. Applications of AI have the potential to assist clinicians, health system managers, policy-makers, and public health practitioners in making more precise, and potentially more effective, decisions.