Artificial Intelligence or AI is a hot topic. Despite its dramatic name, it has nothing to do with terminator robots or science fiction. And Artificial Intelligence, as it enters the field of accounting, does not mean we will be invaded by robot accountants.
Since everyone in almost every profession is talking about AI and its probable effects on business, let’s start our commentary on AI and Accounting with a couple of quick definitions. Then we’ll see how Artificial Intelligence might change accounting as we know it forever.
A Couple of Quick Definitions—With No Killer Robots
- A good working definition of AI is that it is a “branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers.”
- AI also refers to “the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.”
A Deeper Look into the Future with Artificial Intelligence
Experts also state, “artificial intelligence (AI)refers to the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.”
And let us add that this means those “Intelligent beings” are doing more than repetitive tasks. They are capable of adapting to changing circumstances. Ah—yes. Then an AI Accountant would have to be more than a computer-calculator.
Why Are So Many, Varied Companies Investing in AI?
We see varying definitions of artificial intelligence when we analyze the goals of the companies which are
developing or using Artificial Intelligence. Typically we have noticed people investing in AI for one of these 3 goals:
- They want systems that think exactly as we do. We call this “strong AI.”
- They simply want systems to work without the labor-intensive process of “figuring out how human reasoning works.” That would be “weak AI” in common parlance.
- They hope to use human reasoning as a model. However, they do not want it to be the end goal. This (#3) is where we see the “bulk of the AI development happening today by industry leaders…”
AI As Super Human or Super Slave?
Modern businesses from medicine to mortgages are utilizing the best of “human reasoning in AI. And they are using it “as a guide to provide better services or create better products rather trying to achieve a perfect replica of the human mind.”
With that in mind, we see AI in a new way: “the field of computer science dedicated to solving cognitive problems commonly associated with human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and pattern recognition.” This, by the way, is how Amazon and Bernard Marr view the development of Artificial Intelligence.
The Duplex AI from Google: The Perfect Sandbox for Artificial Intelligence
Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal assistant who could use the phone on your behalf and never be ill or absent? “During its annual developer’s conference, which kicked off May 8, Google showcased a system named “Duplex AI.” This is a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out real-world tasks over the phone.” In 2018, there were a few embarrassing bugs in the system, but now, a year to the month in its artificial life, Duplex AI has grown up.
Graduating Technology: Accounting and Communication
To put it simply, the AI system will make calls for lunch or dinner reservations on your behalf. That seems very basic, but keep in mind, this is the consumer version. The limit of its challenge is to talk like a human on its user’s behalf. (So, it will be a step above the IQ of Seri, if all goes well.) The step above: It will make actual restaurant reservations for you. In doing so, the AI will make sense of questions and respond reasonably in regards to the time and place.
Now that’s a long ways away from doing your federal income tax entries for you unassisted, but it is a fine accomplishment. Gavrilov & Co will be watching this new technology over the coming months.
Accounting and AI: Introducing The Super-Accountant and Your Business Adviser
According to the prestigious accounting magazine, Accounting Today, “When any technology graduates from sheer computing to understanding context (of a given business/profession, for example), it creates new possibilities.”
Possibility Number 1: Liberation
When Artificial Intelligence can understand the context of a task within a changing situation, it liberates human beings. In our case, it liberates the accountant. The new AI programs for accounting will liberate human accountants from some of “the drudgery – and time and effort – of making sense from colossal volumes of data.”
Possibility Number 2: A Higher Ground
Artificial Intelligence “can, and will, shift human intelligence to higher ground…” We will no longer waste professional, human time on tasks that previously occupied our time and effort. Think of the improvements that can mean in customer service. We, as accountants, will have more time and expertise available to plan next year’s tax and financial strategies instead of pouring over this year’s massive volume of data.
Human Accountants vs. AI Accountants
Thus, Accounting Today predicts that soon, accountants will be “AI-accountants. (Such a clever nomenclature!) The Tech world is not attempting to create a robot accountant. In the words of Accounting Today, “Artificial Intelligence will not replace accountants. Instead, it will augment accountants’ intelligence.” In the accounting profession of the near future, the application
of AI will do more than the simple Duplex consumer version.
AI, Coming Soon to Your Accountant’s Office.
- The Booking:
In natural conversation, clients and prospects can “book” consulting appointments with an accountant. The AI will “respond in a human voice to find, book reservations, add to the calendar, send confirmation emails and make reminder calls.”
- Software Interaction:
With AI onboard, “Clients can interact over the phone with accounting data/software – which will reply in a human voice.”
The trick here is that the data will only be as accurate as the software and the data in the software. In the old days, we used to say, “garbage in, garbage out.” So we must take care of what we “teach” our AI.
- The Daily Drudgery and an A Tireless Accounting AI
The AI can communicate with clients, speak to them. Artificial Intelligence can remind them in a very human language, to send in certain documents. They can also keep clients on schedule with reminders and information about preparing tax returns on time. A well-trained Artificial Intelligence will be able to ask for clarifications on certain expenses.
The AI in Training and Accounting Artificial Intelligence On the Job
Artificial Intelligence will learn the “context” of accounting. Likewise, AI trusted AI. That is, it will be able to learn your company’s industry. As it does, it will eventually be able to add advice, “which accountants can then enrich with huma
n intelligence to create exceptional value for clients.”
You see, AI cannot help but stay focused. It won’t overlook details. It won’t become exhausted by deadlines or distracted due to multi-tasking. Basically, it will be an ideal tool for our work. Artificial Intelligence will create time and space for accountants to do their best work in human interaction. As you might have guessed, there is more to this story, and you will soon read a Part 2, which will bring you more insight into a life made better by your accountant and his or her AI assistant.
More AI Revelations: Marching into Our Future
Thank you for reading about this glimpse into the future with Artificial Intelligence. And remember, Gavrilov & Co always says, “Better Numbers…Better Community…Better Life.” Artificial Intelligence will help humans accomplish that, and leave us more family and community time to be, well, human.