Navigating the landscape of generative AI
he AICPA & CIMA Engage 2023 session Inspector Gadget explored the intricate relationship between artificial intelligence and the impact of generative AI on the accounting profession.
David Cieslak, CPA, CGMA, CITP, GSEC, executive vice president and chief cloud officer at RKL eSolutions, offered valuable insights about the intersection of technology and accounting with generative AI tools, such as the Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer or ChatGPT. Cieslak discussed challenges and opportunities surrounding AI adoption and factors that accounting and finance professionals must consider regarding AI and its capabilities.
“Resistance to generative AI is futile, and it’s essential to embrace and experiment with these tools to understand their capabilities fully,” Cieslak said.
Widespread adoption of AI and the emergence of generative AI tools
AI is software that mimics human-like intelligence and behaviors, including perception, reasoning, learning and decision-making.
ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, is an AI system that launched on Nov. 30, 2022. As an interactive, conversational chatbot, ChatGPT rapidly became a cultural phenomenon. According to Cieslak, ChatGPT gained over 100 million users in roughly two months, which is “by far and away the fastest uptake on any application in history,” he said.
Subscribers to ChatGPT can choose a price tier, and the free version gives users access to GPT-3.5 on the web, iOS and Androids with regular updates. For $20 a month, the “plus version” gives users access to GPT-4, where users can create images and chat utilizing images and voice.
“Getting started with generative AI/ChatGPT” provides a step-by-step guide on setting up and using the free version of ChatGPT.
Apprehensions and possibilities with generative AI
Along with the absence of regulations and concerns about privacy, AI has sparked fears about job loss due to automation.
The helpful and practical applications of generative AI include research and documentation, ledger entries and error detection, financial analysis and data rendering. Generative AI can be used for forecasting and predictive data analytics.
Cieslak is hopeful about generative AI’s benefits and underscored the possibility of seeing how generative AI could alleviate a shrinking workforce. “We already know we have a staffing shortage. We also know that some of that staffing shortage is permanent.”
With a glass-half-full outlook, he said, “I’m going to look at the positives here and say I think there’s a lot of potential for some relief as a result of generative AI and incorporating that into the fabric of what we do.”
According to Cieslak, AI should not be avoided. Rather, he encourages professionals to experiment with it. “It’s a tool that all of us ultimately are going to need to be comfortable with and really reassess the landscape of our own products and services within our organizations,” he said.
Ever optimistic, Cieslak still warned against disclosing any confidential trade secrets, stating, “I don’t have the confidence that [information] won’t get swept up into the database and become part of ultimately something that’s searchable, discoverable and now I’ve inadvertently exposed something that’s very sensitive for our organization.” Emphasizing that users should be cautious about any information pulled from generative AI, he expounded on the potential misuse of content, the ethical responsibility of organizations, and the need for transparent and responsible AI practices.
Develop responsible AI practices
As accounting and finance professionals, we should understand the tools available for automating repetitive tasks, streamlining operations and reducing errors.
Demystifying Artificial Intelligence, a CPE self-study course, delves into key concepts and capabilities of AI and provides essential knowledge about AI, machine learning, and deep learning. And if you’re ready to get onboard with ChatGPT safely, you’ll want to prioritize creating organizational policies and procedures for responsible and ethical AI use.
For more information, contact Holmes & Company, LLC at firstname.lastname@example.org
As seen in the AICPA-CIMA Journal December 2023
By Mari Sagedal – a senior content writer at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.