Singapore Central Bank Raises Caution over AI’s Role in Monetary Policy


  • Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority, acknowledges the potential of AI in economic modeling but warns about its limitations.
  • Deputy managing director Edward S Robinson suggests that while AI has demonstrated utility in certain areas, it’s not yet capable of providing credible explanations for its predictions.
  • Despite the excitement surrounding AI’s potential, the central bank emphasizes the need for cautious integration and continued reliance on established models.

In a pivotal speech at the 2024 Advanced Workshop for Central Bankers hosted by the National University of Singapore, Edward S Robinson, the deputy managing director for economic policy and chief economist at Singapore’s Monetary Authority, issued a clarion call regarding the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in shaping monetary policy. Robinson’s remarks come amidst growing interest in leveraging AI and machine learning (ML) techniques to bolster economic forecasting and model building. While acknowledging AI’s promise, Robinson underscored critical limitations that raise caution flags for policymakers.

The potential and pitfalls of AI in economic modeling

Robinson’s speech highlighted the remarkable strides made in AI and ML techniques, particularly in the realm of economic modeling. He noted instances where AI had already proven beneficial, such as identifying irregular financial transactions and gauging inflation expectations using social media data. Praising AI’s flexibility in adapting to complex data patterns, Robinson lauded its potential to capture nonlinear economic dynamics akin to human judgment.

Despite the considerable strides forward witnessed in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI), Robinson, in his discourse, sounded a resounding note of caution. Within his elucidation, he meticulously delineated the intrinsic fragilities embedded within AI models, emphatically accentuating their profound susceptibility to the minutiae of parameter selections, as well as the inherent opacity characterizing their resultant outputs. 

Particularly noteworthy in his discourse was Robinson’s pointed emphasis on the current incapacity of AI systems to proffer veritable explications for their prognostications, underscoring their inherent struggles with the comprehension of intricate logic puzzles and complex mathematical operations. Such limitations, he contended, not only signify significant hurdles but also engender formidable challenges for policymakers who rely upon the transparency and interpretability afforded by these models in their decision-making processes.

Satellite models and integration

Robinson proposed a pragmatic approach to incorporating AI into central bank modeling toolkits. He advocated for using AI models as supplementary tools rather than standalone frameworks, particularly in satellite models that complement core structural models. By leveraging AI’s strengths in conjunction with established methodologies, policymakers can harness its capabilities while mitigating inherent risks.

Despite the allure of cutting-edge AI techniques, Robinson stressed the importance of tempering enthusiasm with prudence. He underscored the necessity of organizations like the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to intervene and ensure responsible AI implementation. By rigorously vetting AI models and integrating them into existing frameworks, central banks can navigate the evolving landscape of economic modeling while safeguarding against potential pitfalls.

As Singapore’s central bank grapples with the evolving landscape of economic modeling, Robinson’s insights shed light on the complex interplay between AI innovation and policy formulation. While AI holds immense promise in revolutionizing economic forecasting, its current limitations warrant circumspection. As policymakers tread cautiously into the realm of AI integration, the question remains: How can central banks strike a balance between leveraging AI’s potential and safeguarding against its inherent risks?

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Aamir Sheikh

Amir is a media, marketing and content professional working in the digital industry. A veteran in content production Amir is now an enthusiastic cryptocurrency proponent, analyst and writer.

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