SEC head warns AI could cause financial crisis

SEC head warns AI could cause financial crisis

It is "nearly unavoidable" that AI will trigger a financial crisis within the decade unless regulators step in, says Securities and Exchange Commission head Gary Gensler.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Gensler warns that regulating AI is a "hard challenge" because a host of financial institutions may all be using the same base models. In addition, these models could be developed not by the financial firms themselves but by technology companies that are not regulated by the SEC and other Wall Street watchdogs.

Gensler tells the FT: “It’s a hard financial stability issue to address because most of our regulation is about individual institutions, individual banks, individual money market funds, individual brokers; it’s just in the nature of what we do. And this is about a horizontal [matter whereby] many institutions might be relying on the same underlying base model or underlying data aggregator.” 

He continues: "If everybody’s relying on a base model and the base model is sitting not at the broker dealer, but it’s sitting at one of the big tech companies. And how many cloud providers do we have in this country?"

If firm use the same models, there is a risk of herd behaviour, says Gensler: "I do think we will in the future have a financial the after action reports people will say ‘Aha! There was either one data aggregator or one model...we’ve relied on’."

Gensler says he has discussed the issue with the Financial Stability Board and the Financial Stability Oversight Council, noting that "it’s really a cross-regulatory challenge".

Comments: (2)

Shlomo Cohen
Shlomo Cohen - PRNS - Jerusalem 19 October, 2023, 08:40Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The reasoning "if everyone use the same model..." is skewed: All financial institutions know that you make money only if you use models that are more discriminating than the competitor's. Hence there is no point in simply duplicating an existing model without bringing your own grain of salt - which will make it behave differently from other models.

In addition, there will always be crises - notably due to the Panurge effect (like sheeps, we have a tendency to follow our neighbour) - well-known for centuries. Attributing future crises to AI is just feeding the irrational fear associated to novelty.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 21 October, 2023, 23:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Does the SEC really understand what AI is, its capabilities and impact? Like most pronouncements on AI this story lacks any concrete evidence and robust reasoning, just fear-mongering about what might  happen, which equally, given the lack of arguments presented, might never happen.