Embedding CDER's Centaurs

  • by: Peter Pitts |
  • 09/07/2017
The FDA needs centaurs – and that’s no myth.


In the parlance of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a “centaur” is a combination of a human brain and computer intelligence. The centaur model sparked the growth of freestyle chess, a context in which Garry Kasparov concluded that “weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkable, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.”

Now replace “weak human” with “FDA reviewer.” Get it? According to Brad Bush (COO of Dialexia), “Being a centaur in the workplace means taking advantage of the vast analytical capabilities of AI-enabled technology and adding human thinking.”

As AI innovation continues to advance, we should carefully review the centaur model in terms of the FDA review process and consider how combined human and computing power can augment the evolving methodologies for adaptive clinical trial design and statistical analytics being used to achieve approval via the agency’s various expedited review pathways.

Centaurs, far from being mythological, represent a very real opportunity for drug reviews that are both faster and more accurate – a crucial public health double play.

But isn’t AI risky? Consider this -- machines are terrible risk takers and have no capacity to make leaps of faith. It’s easy for a conversation about AI to devolve into a philosophical discussion about consciousness, because that’s what humans bring to the table — a sense of consciousness and intuition that machines don’t possess. AI isn’t about replacing reviewers, it’s about freeing them to do what they do best – think outside the box! It's precisely that kind of hiuman risk taking the FDA's senior leadership want to see from it's staff.

If you’re an FDA reviewer, ask yourself this question, which end of the centaur do you want to be? Perhaps the FDA needs a new position on its organizational chart – Centaur Director.

As Philip K. Dick wrote, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog