Accountants must play key role in application of AI: ACCA, CA ANZ
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Accountants must play key role in application of AI: ACCA, CA ANZ

Accountants must play key role in application of AI: ACCA, CA ANZ

While potentially offering tremendous benefit, the broad applicability of AI across society must be handled carefully and professional accountants have a key role to play

Divsha Bhat
Responsible AI

A new report revealed by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) presses the need for the accountancy profession to make the necessary connections between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its relationship to environmental, social and governance (ESG) dimensions.

The research which included panelists from the UAE, polled over 5,700 respondents from 21 countries and geographies. According to it, less than half (43 per cent) believe that AI will have a positive impact on their individual rights, such as safety and personal security, as well as levels of fairness, choice, and transparency. In the United Arab Emirates, 51 per cent say this is the case.

Professional accountants, with their clear and long-standing commitment to ethical standards, are well-positioned to lead organisations down a responsible route for AI adoption, according to ACCA and CA ANZ in Ethics for sustainable AI adoption: Connecting AI and ESG.

The poll found that 68 per cent of UAE accounting and financial professionals feel that their leaders value ethics as much as profits – compared to 66 per cent worldwide – and that 51 per cent believe that AI would improve society’s standard of living – compared to 64 per cent globally.

Fazeela Gopalani, head of ACCA Middle East comments: ‘This presents a wake-up call for the accountancy profession to lead the way and become the super connectors needed to ensure an ethical approach. Their management of the transition to mass usage of AI in an ethical, responsible manner is essential if sustainable long-term value is to be secured from it.’

The report’s nine recommendations include the need to set tone at the top on AI adoption by prioritising an approach that is consistent with organisational values such as diversity and inclusion in considering the impact of AI on under-represented groups, or fairness when it comes to recruitment or surveillance of employees: and transparency such as appropriately disclosing AI use to customers.

Read: How chartered accountants can play a key role in the fight against climate change

Speaking of the global picture, Helen Brand, chief executive of ACCA says: ‘AI adoption must consider the needs of all, especially the under-represented and vulnerable in society. That’s why one of our recommendations is to ensure the profession exercises its professional judgement, because AI may create previously unseen situations. We recommend that professional accountants need to avoid over-reliance on simplistic checklist-based approaches which don’t give the full picture or leave space for unintended consequences.’

Also commenting on the global findings, Ainslie van Onselen, chief executive of CA ANZ adds: ‘Our report found that in order to ethically and sustainably adopt AI, organisations need effective governance mechanisms. This starts with setting the right tone and culture at the top and covers a range of areas from oversight and delivery procedures, to regulation and data governance. AI is a strategic endeavour that should be spearheaded by leaders who know and execute on the difference between what we have a right to do and what is the right thing to do. It’s important to build knowledge and skills at the intersection of AI, ethics and sustainable development. This aligns well to the accountancy profession which can play a key role in driving responsible adoption.’

Read: Majority of UAE consumers open to using AI to enhance video conversations

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