Will our next entertainer be an AI?

Recently the founders of Metaphysic used AI to create a live performance by Simon Cowell on America’s Got Talent signing. They used a special camera, a body double that has a great voice, and an AI model that was trained by examining footage of Cowell.

See the video here.

Although in this video, you can tell it isn’t quite right and that isn’t Cowell, it was convincing enough to be a semi-finalist in AGT. Their DeepFake Tom Cruise, on the other hand, is more convincing. If you look closely, you can see it probably isn’t Tom himself, but at first glance, many fans would be fooled.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Metaphysic is using synthetic media to create these clips. They combine real-world objects with digital ones created with artificial intelligence. For the Tom Cruise videos, they spent 3 months analyzing a variety of clips of Tom Cruise from movies, interviews, and any other coverage. The videos are created with a body double with the AI-generated video of his face.

For entertainment purposes, this can open up some new opportunities, but it adds many ethical questions, not just in entertainment but in business, politics, the legal system, and the world at large. As AI becomes more developed, the images will be clearer and less distinguishable from real ones, and there are significant implications. Right now the technology is quite expensive to use and generate these types of images, but this will change as well.

To see the entire article on Metaphysic and a discussion of synthetic media, see this article by Bernard Marr.

Think your crypto is secure?

Nomad is the latest cryptocurrency trading firm to be hit with a significant theft of its crypto assets. Last week they announced a $190 million theft of their digital assets. Nomad is not alone. In a report by blockchain analytics firm, Chainalysis, over $1.7 billion of cryptocurrency was stolen this year through May.

Hand with image of bitcoin
Photo by Worldspectrum on Pexels.com

There is a false sense of security regarding safeguarding crypto assets as they reside on the blockchain, which has long been touted as secure. Although the blockchain is relatively secure, many software applications automate the trading of cryptocurrencies. These applications are the weak spot for many blockchain operations. This opens the door for hackers to steal large amounts of assets without leaving a trace.

For more on the Nomad theft, see the article at: https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-crypto-firm-nomad-hit-by-190-million-theft-2022-08-02/

What skills are your students missing?

The AICPA and NASBA recently surveyed 300 U.S. accounting programs to show what technical skills students need as they enter the profession and what they may be missing. The survey focuses on topics such as data analytics, IT audit, cybersecurity, etc.

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The survey was done as part of the CPA Evolution Initiative which is transforming the licensure model for the CPA. The survey showed that 64% of accounting programs are teaching analytics, but less than half cover cybersecurity.

To see the full report of what technical topics are covered in accounting curriculum, see the full report at: https://evolutionofcpa.org/Documents/Accounting%20Program%20Curriculum%20Gap%20Analysis%20Report%203.15.2021.pdf

A New Look at Machine Learning

At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, John Deere showcased how it is using Artificial Intelligence in its products. A large display of agricultural equipment is not what many attendees expect to find at the consumer electronics show, but a John Deere Sprayer was displayed prominently among the drones, games and other gadgets.

Listen to how Machine Learning is being used in agricultural equipment. https://www.investors.com/videos/ai-and-machine-learning-to-power-john-deeres-lineup-of-farm-equipment/

Blockchain in Accounting – Hype or not?

Not that long ago it seemed that blockchain was everywhere. The hype of blockchain as a cure-all was quite prevalent, including a commentary in the Wall Street Journal commenting how blockhain can end poverty. See article.

However, it seems that much of the hype has died for the moment as practitioners find ways to utilize blockchain when it makes the most sense, rather than implementing blockchain for the sake of using blockchain.

A recent podcast with the Journal of Accountancy discusses where the accounting industry is at this time for using blockchain. To view the article and associated podcast, go to: https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/podcast/blockchain-accounting.html

In my opinion, the use of blockchain was over hyped at first. Now that the dust has settled, accountants can find ways to use it to increase reliability of transactions and speed up some processing.

Think Cryptocurrency is safe? Think again.

“In 2019 alone, an estimated $4.26 billion in cryptocurrencies was lost due to hacks, cybertheft, scams, misappropriation or insider fraud, up about 250% from 2018.” Fraudsters have upped efforts to attack cryptocurrencies in recent years.

Fraudsters are using schemes such as: embezzlement, Ponzi schemes, phishing and ransomware.

Currency Exchange Rates

Unlike other frauds, if a person loses cryptocurrency, there is no recourse or way to recover it.

For how forensic accountants can help, go to: https://blog.aicpa.org/2020/05/cyber-criminals-are-finding-ways-to-steal-your-digital-dollars.html#sthash.Sv5ebunY.dpbs

Technology Trends 2020

Deloitte released its 11th annual report on Tech Trends in the accounting field. Note: this report was written before the COVID 19 pandemic, so it will be interesting to see how that may change things in the 2021 report.

Some of the trends highlighted in the report include:

  • Macro Technology Forces – firms need to find value and bring the recent technologies together
  • Ethical Technology and Trust – use the new technologies in an ethical manner while building trust with all stakeholders
  • Finance and the Future of IT – using technology to become more agile within the organization
  • Digital Twins – bridge the physical and the digital operations to help the other

For the entire executive summary, go to: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/tech-trends.html

For the entire report, including videos, go to: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/tech-trends.html

Improve your Digital Fitness

Thanks to a former student, I have been trying new Digital Fitness app from PWC. During the pandemic, they are making it free for anyone wanting to better understand the changing technologies and other issues in business.

Once you setup an account, the app guides you through a quiz to determine your digital aptitude. Then based on your score it puts you on a Fitness plan. You improve your score by reading short article or watching videos on various topics from environmental impacts, basics of the blockchain and project management. The articles I have read have been quite informative and interesting.

To sign-up, go to https://www.pwc.com/us/digitalfitness  . If you need a code to signup, use LRNALL.

Start improving your digital fitness 2 minutes at a time.

How watching cat videos is affecting the environment

The amount of streaming data as well as the large data storage centers are having an negative impact on the environment. Some experts believe the data technology industry rivals the airline industry on the environmental impact.

Photo by Manuel Geissinger from Pexels

With the number of new devices collecting data, the demands for electricity are set to increase significantly.

Tech companies are looking at how to curb the power usage from massive data centers. These centers not only expend large amounts of energy powering the data centers, but they also need significant air conditioning to cool the machines.

Read this article to find out how a Canadian company is looking to reduce the power usage while keeping us connected. https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/data-centres-energy-consumption-1.5391269

The algorithm made me do it!

The algorithm made me do it shows one of the primary reasons explainable artificial intelligence will be needed in the future. Many AI solutions seem to be a black box which few, if any, individuals can explain the particular output.

This Harvard Business Review article highlights why the black box approach to AI in the future won’t be feasible. The author notes that the “The algorithm told me to do it” defense won’t likely stand up in court.

To read the rest of the article, go to hbr.org/2019/11/why-business-leaders-need-to-understand-their-algorithms