January 23, 2019

The Good News Is Robots Won’t Take Your Job, the Bad News Is When They Do They’ll Be Like Interns

We’ve been talking about robots taking your jobs for years now, always coming to the same conclusion that AI won’t make skilled CPAs, auditors, and other higher-level accounting professionals redundant. Phil the bookkeeper who has been doing taxes out of a beauty salon backroom in a podunk strip mall may not be so lucky, but who cares about that guy anyway, amirite?

So that’s the good news. The bad news is that the technology is getting smarter every day and there will come a time when you start to see “robots” replace warm bodies in earnest. And that someone is going to have to babysit it.

New technology that can process large volumes of information offers accountants and auditors a chance to shift people and resources to other needs, but accounting specialists said the technology needs human oversight to be effective.

Robotics, machine learning, and other forms of artificial intelligence hold promise for accounting. Technology for generating and processing natural language can turn financial tables into written documents, give structure to large volumes of unstructured financial data, and pore through long documents and contracts to extract needed information, according to Mike Schor, a partner at Deloitte.

I’ve worked on some AI-training projects in the last few months and let me tell you: the “robots” are morons. Just look at InspiroBot. It can barely form coherent sentences, much less fully thought-out motivational phrases.

Beggarify yourself

Deep.

While even Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert’s son is afraid robots might take away the job he doesn’t even have yet, y’all have very little to worry about. When the “robots” do eventually make their way en masse to the hallowed halls open floor plans of public accounting firms everywhere, they will likely be just as clueless as interns when it comes to doing their jobs, much less yours. I figure you have at least a good 10 to 20 years before AI is really a threat. I mean, unless you consider interns a threat.

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