Generative AI: Should You Avoid It or Adopt It?

When a new technology arises, accounting professionals tend to be skeptical. They are seldom the people who are first to jump on the bandwagon. It’s been true at the introduction of mainframes, when PCs first arrived, when networks were first developed, at the internet’s inception, and during social media’s adoption. So, it’s not surprising to hear that accountants are skeptical of the newest technology, generative artificial intelligence.

While there are certainly issues to be aware of with all new technologies, generative AI tools such as ChatGPT have the potential to save employees roughly two hours per day. It makes sense to at least learn about this technology to see if it fits in your firm.

What It Is

The term generative AI refers to technology that uses a machine learning model and that contains interactive features such as the ability to chat. One example is ChatGPT, which is a public, consumer-based product developed by OpenAI. Microsoft’s generative AI product is Bing AI, and Google’s entry is Bard. There are a dozen or so others, but those are the “big three.” These tools are rapidly evolving with new features, capabilities, and content added weekly if not daily.


The benefits to using ChatGPT include enhanced automation for just about any routine task, freeing up time for more analytic work and better decision-making. Employees are happier not having to take time on “grunt work.” Increased efficiency leads to higher profit margins. Having AI tools in your technology tool kit can even help attract talent.

Of course, there are downsides to generative AI tools. You shouldn’t input anything that is confidential since it’s a public database. And, the answers are not always accurate, so you have to check its work.  You should also avoid using ChatGPT for high-risk tasks.

How It’s Used

To use any of these tools, you simply type in a question or instruction, and the tool will generate an answer. There are some features available to help you improve your answer, but the best way to get a thoughtful answer is to learn the best way to word your question.

When Google search first came out, none of us knew the best words or phrases to use to get the search results we wanted.  It’s the same with ChatGPT; there is quite a learning curve when it comes to wording the prompt.

While ChatGPT can answer a wide range of questions, it’s best to use these tools when there is low risk to your firm. The answer you might get from these tools could very well be incorrect. It’s imperative that you double-check the answer you receive if accuracy is an issue. With any technology, you’ll want to develop user guidelines that address issues such as privacy, copyright, client-facing limitations, and ethics.

Incorrect answers, or hallucinations, occur because the model is not trained correctly or the data is bad. The technology works by generating one word at a time. The AI model picks what it thinks is the best next word. But it doesn’t understand the words. It’s all based on very advanced math with the ability to generate feedback loops which increases the probability of better word choices by the model.

ChatGPT’s other big disadvantage besides the hallucinations is that its database is only up to date through September of 2021 as of this writing.


With any technology, you can ignore it and miss out; be afraid of it and ban it like some firms have already; or learn about it, set boundaries for usage, and reap the benefits of early adopters. Which category will you and your firm fall into?

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