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Machine learning creates ethical challenges for accountants

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more relevant for many organisations as the hype increasingly becomes reality, according to a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). But the huge opportunities need to be balanced by care to navigate the ethical challenges ahead, it warned.

"Machine learning: more science than fiction" argues that adoption of machine learning needs to be based on legitimate business need rather than just wanting to be seen as using AI. A third of the nearly 2,000 accountants in 111 countries who responded to the survey said they currently see AI as all or mostly hype, while nearly 60 per cent said that in three years’ time it will become a reality.

"Machine learning is a critical area of development for accountants. Looking ahead it will be crucial to understand its value and benefits, as well as the ethical challenges it presents. In all this, the starting point has to be a legitimate business need with a clear understanding of what it can bring to the organisation," said Narayanan Vaidyanathan, the report’s author and head of business insights at ACCA 

This article was first published in April 2019.