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Part 2 - The Future of AI in the Office: Three Reasons why C-3PO Isn't Going to Steal Your Job

In my last post, I discussed how the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere and what it is all about.

Today, I want to talk about why AI (or a robot) will not eliminate the need for human participation within the accounting industry.

It’s fairly unlikely that accounting will need all seven systems of AI in order to reach the end result goal. As proof, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) defines accounting as: “the art of recording, classifying, and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are, in part at least of financial character, and interpreting the results thereof.“ 

For all it’s necessary means, people will be needed to determine where, how and when to do each of these tasks; and then to interpret the results as fact, anomaly, or fraud. It’s likely that the primary AI systems that accounting will use will come from Knowledge Representation and Reasoning and Machine Learning. Some dependencies will be resolved from a third category, “Search and Planning” but it will likely be used for specific use cases.

This becomes Reason #2 why you will not be replaced by a robot in the future of accounting.

Despite being super-fast with the numbers, it will still need someone to analyze and steer the focus. At this point, AI cannot interpret the context in results.

With our newfound definition of AI in hand, we can now start to present a picture of what it could be in accounting and how that would affect the many different ways we manage and influence this process today.

Consider for a moment the relationship you could have with your Android accountant. Now consider your relationship with your iPhone or Android Phone.  If given the opportunity which would you choose:

  • Schedule three 30-minute preparation appointments (deliver goals, deliver documentation, sign documentation, etc.)
  • Click an app and get an alert when it was done. (Same as above, except it’s already tied to your finances.)

Which would you choose?

If you had the opportunity to simply click an app, here’s how I see it working:

  1. AI would continuously log, classify and store financial transactions from your company
  2. At the appropriate time (month end, quarter end, year-end, ad hoc request, etc.) AI would pull, classify, organize, and then process your financials
  3. AI would continuously flag and then notify you of inconsistencies
  4. Upon your review and response, AI would prepare your documents
  5. Upon your digital signature, it would send your prepared documentation
  6. If required, it would then recommend experts or reviews to prepare you for a potential audit

One could argue that if such an AI existed it would meet the professed reason for AI and robots in the first place: To be free of mindless tasks so that you could dedicate your life to those activities that provide the greatest levels of happiness and return.

That’s AI I can get behind.

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