September 16, 2019

Augmented Intelligence in Accounting

As a follow up from my Augmented Reality post I wanted to take a moment to talk about augmented intelligence also known as intelligence amplification. Put simply, this is enhancing the human brain with technology. Believe it or not the term "intelligence amplification" was popularized by W. Ross Ashby in his 1956 book, An Introduction to Cybernetics. Now that Elon Musk has spoken about it, I feel like less of a tinfoil hat wearing lunatic talking about this (Note: I said less of).

The problem with computers at the moment is that they rely on manual human interface: your keyboard and mouse; and really, that technology hasn’t improved for 30-odd years. Yes, we have voice commands, but I already yell at my computer enough as it is. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how fast your computer is (and it’s going to get much faster), the speed you can type is the current limit (for partners like Old Economy Steve, that’s ten words a minute).

So the question becomes how do we improve the human-machine interface?

The next iteration will be eye tracking. This technology has been in the works for almost a decade, predominantly used for those with disabilities. It’s come a long way since then, and eye-tracking user interface technology is fast becoming a land grab. The latest technology uses very subtle eye movement, blink commands and pupil dilation to input commands. Pair this with augmented reality and you can imagine how this next wave may pan out.

I always like to think about what happens after the next wave though, and although these new user interfaces will definitely improve the current situation, it’s still not fast enough for my liking. I believe that the next iteration, in 20 years or so, will be a direct human-machine interface. It will be achieved either through nanobots or some sort of surgical implant (I’ll definitely be waiting for version two to come out first).

This would theoretically get us to a point where we can directly interact with technology from our brains. It would allow us to:

  • Recall legislation and accounting standards on demand. This will be useful considering that’s what clients expect already.
  • Store memories “off-site” for recall later. (For when you get asked about a client's inventory count from 2012)
  • Finally interact with Excel with our minds.

In the interests of brevity, I’ll leave it there. For my next installment I’ll explain why if we do not develop this technology, we’re all doomed. In the meantime, I invite you all to make fun of me below; I’ll do my best to counter with witty retort.

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