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.”