Are you concerned about the future of the Accountancy profession?

Apr 05, 2018
In 1850, 4.9 million, or about 64 percent, of workers in the USA were employed in farming; however today this is down to less than 2 percent of the US population. While it is easy to understand how this shift occurred, with the introduction of mechanisation (tractors for horses, combine harvesters for trashing engines) it’s harder to envisage how machines could replace professions such as accountancy, law, medicine which require, high level of skill and judgement. 
However Dr Daniel Susskind, one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Annual Conference in Kilkenny on 11 May suggests that yes these previously ‘safe’ professions are very much under threat. 

Fourth industrial revolution: 

In his book The Future of the Professions Susskind explains how this new industrial revolution is different than the ones experienced in the past. In Kilkenny he will expand on his predictions regarding the decline of today's professions (including Accountancy). He will demonstrate how his research suggests that in the future we will neither need nor want doctors, teachers, accountants, architects, the clergy, consultants, lawyers, and many others, to work as they did in the 20th century. Susskind’s proposition is that 'increasingly capable systems' will bring fundamental change in the way that the 'practical expertise' of specialists is made available in society and unambiguously predicts ‘a decline in demand for the traditional professions.  However it’s not all bad news and Susskind will outline to the audience in Kilkenny how we can prepare ourselves to prosper in this new environment. 

Let the debate begin:

The conference will no doubt spark much debate from the floor and while it could be seen as scaremongering many have raised concerns about the impact of AI on not just our professions but the fundamental basis of our societies. Indeed some have argued that those downplaying this impact are in fact akin to climate change deniers – denying clear and present danger that requires urgent addressing. 
Tech visionary and founder of companies including Paypal and Tesla Motors Elon Musk issued a stark warning in 2017 when he said “I have exposure to the most cutting edge Artificial Intelligence (AI), and I think people should be really concerned by it. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not — they were harmful to a set of individuals within society, of course, but they were not harmful to society as a whole."  Musk isn’t alone in articulating these existential fears, the late Dr Stephen Hawking’s told the BBC in 2014 that: "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
I really hope you can join us in Kilkenny to hear about these challenges and join the debate around the future of the profession.

Joe Carroll, Head of Professional Development, Chartered Accountants Ireland.