The incorporation of GenAI offers accounting professionals the ability to drive innovation, improve procedures, and provide greater value to clients while carefully considering the ethical issues, writes Westcon-Comstor CFO Catherine Mwololo.
Technology is developing at an unprecedented pace revolutionising almost every facet of our lives. This has been propelled by the advent of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI).
GenAI is a type of AI that is intended to create new material or data that is similar, but not identical, to current data. It works by training models on massive datasets and then using those algorithms to generate new content.
Text production, image creation, music composition and other areas may all benefit from GenAI. It ideally operates by learning the patterns and instructions of the incoming data and then generating output depending on the user's commands.
Essentially, you give GenAI information about anything you want to generate. It then studies existing knowledge on the matter and produces something equivalent to it. A generative model trained on a dataset of human faces, for example, could generate new faces that appear realistic but do not belong to a real person. Or, consider a computer learning from images of different locations, it could then generate fresh images of places that appear real but do not exist in reality.
There are currently GenAI tools for a range of modalities, including text generation, image generation, music creation, code generation, and voice synthesis.
Versatile and simple
GenAI knowledge varies among the general population, as it does with any emergent technology. While some people understand this technology and are likely to use it more frequently, others may be unaware of its possibilities and impact. The expertise is more frequent in the tech sector as well as individuals working in disciplines that are influenced directly by its operation.
The broad adoption and embrace of GenAI applications has been boosted by its incredible versatility and simplicity, especially with regard to text and imagery. These cutting-edge technologies hold the potential to empower creative professionals as they explore different possibilities for their work. For instance, an artist can start with a general idea before testing alternatives while architects might experiment with diverse building plans.
GenAI driven tools also help democratise elements of creativity that were previously less accessible. In business settings, individuals may articulate what they want through language-based descriptions while AI generates corresponding marketing visuals based on those specifications. Subsequent modifications are then easily enacted per given instructions without requiring any sketching or drawing whatsoever!
With the proliferation of smart phone usage and increased reliance on digital platforms, there has been a notable rise in tech awareness amongst the general public. Consequently, GenAI’s appreciation, reach and impact have also grown considerably.
Usage of GenAI varies across industries; here are some examples:
- Finance: To identify fraudulent activities by leveraging historical data.
- Customer chatbots: To deliver tailored customer service and improved data.
- Manufacturers: Use it effectively to pinpoint defective parts with greater accuracy post-analysis from several information sources.
- Architectural firms: Leverage its unprecedented speed, which offers new found convenience when designing prototypes.
- Researchers: Rely on it as an access point into vast amounts of user-generated content to construct summaries, based on various prompts gathered during analysis sessions.
Morals and ethics
The use of GenAI in business settings may need the establishment of regulations to govern its application. Though businesses can see and appreciate the potential benefits of GenAI and the huge opportunity it brings, they must be committed to use it in a moral and responsible manner that serves the interests of partners, employees, and the public in addition to the company's core values.
As a result, companies should consider developing rules and guidelines for the usage of GenAI, which should include, among other things: security, compliance, data privacy - for individuals and businesses alike - as well as built-in responsible AI capabilities.
The issue of ethical consideration surrounding GenAI has been a growing concern and a key topic of interest. Major concerns surround the areas of confidentiality, security and compliance.
The below are some areas that companies need to address in its policy guidelines:
- Misuse: The automatic generation of content raises significant ethical concerns especially possible misuse of AI generated material e.g. manipulated images, fake videos and biased comparatives.
- Intellectual Property rights (IPR): Creating content using different platforms could lead to breaches of IPR as ownership of such works may vest with the owner of the AI.
- Confidentiality: Corporate or individual data is at risk if privacy isn't protected adequately; shared source information on open-AI tools may not be secure from infringement either.
- Results accuracy: OpenAI users should verify output information before applying it towards any professional advice-seeking process they undertake.
For accounting professionals, the incorporation of GenAI offers the ability to drive innovation, improve procedures, and enable professionals to provide greater value to their clients while carefully considering the ethical issues.
Finally, as GenAI evolves, it is becoming increasingly important to raise public awareness about its ethical issues and engage in constructive debate about its responsible usage in order to promote informed decision making and mitigate potential risks while harnessing its benefits.