Artificial intelligence (AI) is generating substantial interest in the field of medicine. One form of artificial intelligence, deep learning, has led to rapid advances in automated image analysis. In 2017, an algorithm demonstrated the ability to diagnose certain skin cancers from clinical photographs with the accuracy of an expert dermatologist. Subsequently, deep learning has been applied to a range of dermatology applications. Though experts will never be replaced by AI, it will certainly impact the specialty of dermatology. In this first article of a two-part series, the basic concepts of deep learning will be reviewed with the goal of laying the groundwork for effective communication between clinicians and technical colleagues. In part two of the series, the clinical applications of deep learning in dermatology will be reviewed considering limitations and opportunities.