The Future Of Accounting: Co-Habitation With Bots
Finweek English|16 September 2021
The new breed of techno-colleague is here to stay. We can avoid them at our peril, or we can form a mutually beneficial working relationship.
Johan Steyn

Humans need not apply.” Imagine reading those words on a job-seeker website portal. The smart technology era introduced us to computer systems that can be programmed to do the tasks that most human workers do daily.

Computers can see (computer vision), they can speak and hear (natural language processing), they can execute tasks (robotic process automation) and they can think and learn (machine learning). One might wonder what is left for human workers to do in an age where robots can do what we do faster, more accurately, without being involved with unions and industrial action, and never needing sleep or sick leave.

In his book Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth & Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, futurist and technology entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan cautions readers that the warning signs of techno-unemployment are before us. “The two great scourges of the modern developed world – persistent unemployment and increasing income inequality – plague our society even as our economy continues to grow. If these are left unchecked, we may witness the spectacle of widespread poverty against a backdrop of escalating comfort and wealth.”

White-collar bots are here

For decades white-collar jobs were mostly spared the onslaught of automation. While robots may be taking over less educated individuals’ blue-collar employment, artificial intelligence (AI) is set to disrupt higher-paying occupations for university-educated professionals, ensuring that no one is immune to the influence of technology on the global workforce.

In order to compete in the global market, organisations are utilising smart automation technology to decrease their operating costs, increase the development and delivery of new products and services, and offering clients a better experience.

Many businesses are attempting to leave their infant shoes of basic process automation. Others are only now learning to walk without assistance by implementing platforms like Robotic Process Automation while others have learned to run the course by embracing smart technology like AI. The race is swift and lengthy, and the finishing line is continually moving out of sight.

On the horizon glimmers a new day of intelligent automation. Those businesses which are in their infant shoes or only now learning to walk are very, very far behind in the race. Will they ever be able to catch up?

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