The AI Revolution: How ChatGPT is Redefining the Way We Work
May 18, 2023
by Monette Anderson, CAE
As your professional association, the WSCPA is committed to staying ahead of the curve and exploring the latest trends in the accounting profession. The internet has been buzzing with the latest leap in technology, which has garnered widespread attention. While discussions around Artificial Intelligence (AI) are not new to the accounting world, they have recently been highlighted and brought to the forefront with the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT in November 2022. The platform achieved an impressive feat by reaching one million users within just five days of launching, surpassing the benchmarks achieved by Facebook, which took 10 months, and Twitter, which took two years. We are all coming to recognize just how significant this development may be for the accounting and financial services profession, and how important it is to monitor its potential impact on our profession. As you navigate this rapidly changing landscape, it's critical to stay informed and understand the implications of new technologies like ChatGPT.
This innovative AI tool has the potential to revolutionize the way CPAs work. With its advanced language processing capabilities, ChatGPT can perform complex calculations and provide real-time responses to tax and financial questions, freeing up CPAs to focus on high-level strategic work. There’s a caveat, for now, and that is that ChatGPT’s training database has only been updated through 2021.
But what does this mean for our profession and you? As the use of chatbots and AI continues to grow, it's important to consider the potential impact on the workforce and job market. On one hand, AI could lead to increased efficiency and profitability for the industry. On the other hand, it could eliminate jobs and disrupt the traditional roles of CPAs.
According to Straits Research, the chatbot market is projected to reach $3.62 billion dollars by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 23.9 percent. It's up to us to understand this impact and make informed decisions about how to embrace this exciting new technology.
All businesses will benefit from using ChatGPT or applications like it in their daily work. I first started hearing about the tool as a resource to write and edit code, so assumed it wasn’t relevant to my day-to-day work, but quickly came to realize the application goes much further than that. Here are a few uses that many are already quickly able to adapt and implement into their work:
- Brainstorm content ideas and create marketing copy.
- Automate customer support and communications.
- Write job descriptions or personalized cover letters based on your experience.
- Automating repetitive tasks such as data entry, invoice processing and report generation.
- Easily and more quickly interpret and summarize data, such as from an earnings report.
- Study for an exam, such as the CPA Exam by breaking down complex concepts and generating practice problems and study timelines.
You may have already joined the more than 100 million users who are already experimenting with ChatGPT, or you may not yet have joined in as one of the 13 million daily visitors to the site. Some find there is a bit of a learning curve to this technology, especially for more advanced tasks, like creating reports. Here are a few tips for using ChatGPT and refining the output that I’ve found to jumpstart my new, and admittingly limited, usage:
- Build on previous conversation: ChatGPT is designed to be conversational, so you can ask follow-up questions to build a stronger response output. This is the best natural training, as you will quickly learn how to phrase your responses and asks to get more relevant output.
- Ask it to be an expert: Many find that they get more high-level output on previous answers by asking the tool to act like an expert. Instead of asking for negotiation tips for an upcoming meeting, asking it to give you negotiation tips as if it were an FBI hostage negotiator, for example, will yield much stronger and more specific responses.
- Ask it to explain it as if you were a child: Ask the input to simplify data by asking it to explain it to you as if you were 10.
- Consider third-party plug-ins: If you lack the expertise to generate complex items on your own, there are several companies that offer templates that integrate with OpenAI. For instance, the Personal Growth Company released an AI tool that lets you enter your objective, then plots it into a project plan including individual steps, manageable subtasks, and a color-coded to-do list.
- Be sure to edit and fact-check the output that is generated. As mentioned previously, the training database hasn’t been updated since 2021, and disclaimers state that it may not always produce accurate information.
The rapid growth of AI technology and its associated services has spurred a growing ethical debate. Some schools have started blocking AI platforms on their computers, and a Princeton student developed a tool called GPTZero to detect AI-generated text (it is not 100% accurate). While some argue that it is wise to embrace the technology and liken it to calculators, others are concerned about its potential ethical implications. For example, it seems clear that using AI to write a 3-page American history assignment with sources would be unethical. But what about using ChatGPT to help formulate a response to a personalized scholarship essay? It’s a question that was raised by our scholarship review team with concerns about students using these services to assist with their essays. Questions like these will continue to be debated as this technology becomes more widespread and accessible. Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, AI is here to stay.
Monette Anderson, CAE, is the WSCPA Director of Membership. You can contact Monette at email@example.com.
Hear more productivity tips from Monette during the Governmental Accounting & Auditing Conference on April 25 and the WSCPA Membership Summit on June 13. Learn more at wscpa.org.
Interested in specific ChatGPT tips for enhancing your tax practice? Join George Koutelieris and Greg White for ChatGPT for Tax: A Quick Guide to Successful Tax Research WEBCAST, June 5, 12-1 PM PT.
This article appears in the spring 2023 issue of the Washington CPA magazine. Read this article and others here.