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Saturday, November 25, 2017

How will AI and deep learning technologies impact the audit? |

Photo: Felice Persico
Photo: Jeanne Boillet
We are at an inflection point in the debate about what AI means for industries and professions. With the critical mass of data now enough to feed the AI engine, its early applications are yielding some very interesting results. Felice Persico, global vice-chair for assurance at EY and Jeanne Boillet, global assurance innovation leader at EY, investigate.

Photo: Indypendenz/Shutterstock

There are many truths and half-truths out there concerning the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) will have across a range of industries and professions.

Some industries have adopted elements of the technology faster than others, with varying degrees of success. And, while there is undoubtedly a great deal of hype around AI, it seems certain that it will have a dramatic impact for many areas of business and the wider world over the coming years.

In fact, figures from a recent study found that 88pc of more than 230 business and technology executives surveyed are now using technologies that rely on AI. And, of those who haven’t yet deployed AI, 56pc plan to do so in the next two years.

This is because its progress has accelerated sharply in the last five to 10 years due to advances in low-cost parallel processing, learning algorithms and a rise in the sheer volumes of data that we now have at our disposal.

These advances give AI-powered or infused systems a huge volume of material to analyse, interpret and learn from – infinitely faster than humans ever could – with a view to gathering insights, solving problems and increasing productivity.

Most current uses of AI fit into what can be considered ‘understanding of the world’. That means harnessing AI’s abilities to handle, organise and analyse a range of inputs – most critically, huge amounts of structured and unstructured data, which can range from social media sentiment to a company’s business data.

To give an example, the EY Global Artificial Intelligence Lab has recently applied AI and deep learning technologies to the lease accounting process.

AI is used to streamline data capture from contracts by identifying the relevant clauses for accounting treatment, such as lease commencement date, payment amounts, and renewal or termination options.