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Are robots taking over?

By Dan Teuton
17 July 2019

writes Julie Bryant, partner, Haines Watts.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a popular theme for movies and science fiction novels.  Robots taking over the world and posing a threat to human existence in a dystopian future – from Skynet in The Terminator to The Matrix – it can seem a scary concept.

So, is this our future?  Actually, AI is our present. Most of us will use a robotic assistant on a regular basis, using a voice command such as “Hey Siri”.

AI has been around since the 1950s, but has seen tremendous progress in recent years due to increased volumes of data and improvements in computer power and storage capabilities. AI is already transforming many sectors of the economy.

What is AI?

AI does not replicate human intelligence (so is unlikely to take over the world – phew). The term is mostly used to describe machine learning systems.

Such systems allow computers to be trained to accomplish specific tasks, producing outputs that far exceed the accuracy and consistency of humans.  The key word here is ‘specific’ – unlike a human, today’s systems are trained to do a clearly defined task and are therefore highly specialised.

What does this mean for accountants?

AI-based technology is predicted to transform the accounting profession. Many tasks and decisions will be automated, leading to great improvements in efficiency and accuracy. AI will assist human decision-making, by offering impressive data-driven insights and analysis.

This will lead to a change in the roles and skills needed in accountancy firms. Firms will need to adapt to make the most of the opportunities.

What about other businesses?

Many businesses are already using AI technology to reduce operational costs, increase efficiency, grow revenue and improve customer experience.

The future is bright – and exciting – for those ready to embrace technology and adopt new ways of thinking.

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