AI Needs Human Expertise for Decision Making

Dr. Seuss sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

Sometimes you can learn more from the questions people ask than from the content of the webinar.

I was attending a webinar yesterday with Mark Wickersham, an accountant turned accounting practice guru. ChatGPT and AI quickly found their way into the discussion. One of the attendees asked if Mark wasn’t concerned about encouraging ChatGPT.

Since AI learns from the information we feed it, isn’t he making it easier for AI to replace accountants and bookkeepers?

This is a question being asked a lot. AI tool adoption is skyrocketing. Companies are replacing people with these technologies.

AI Creates a New Role For Human Experts

AI and all of the tools it has spawned aren’t going away. Refusing to feed them to preserve your profession is a fool’s errand. In response to the chat question, I suggested a different way of looking at AI.

Clients’ attitude toward learning falls into 4 broad categories:

#1: Those who say, “I already know that so I don’t need to search anything.”

#2: Those who say, “Just give me an answer, and I’ll accept it without question.”

#3: Those who say, “Give me the information, and I’ll figure it out myself.”

#4: Those who say, ”I have all of this information. Help me sort through it all to make the right decision.”

Clients' attitudes fall into 4 broad categories about learning, search, and AI.

AI Tools Require Us To Ask Better Questions

Traditional Google search uses a few keywords and returns a hit or miss stream of links. You’re on your own to sort through the mess and land on a suitable answer.

Google and Bing (yes, it’s still alive) are experimenting with generative AI search to deliver a more iterative approach to results.

ChatGPT and Bard reward questions that have context and clarity with a single done for you answer. It might not be right – as their disclaimers clearly state – but you can continue to refine your question. 

These fresh approaches to information delivery bring us back to the attendee's fear of AI --

The more you share your expertise and knowledge with your clients, the more informed and useful their searches will become. 

A Practical AI Search, ChatGPT, and Bard Example

Let’s look at this real experiment I did with Google search, Bard, and  ChatGPT. I’ve included the full results so this post is longer than usual. 

The topic:  You’re an accountant who understands the importance of teaching kids about money at an early age. You want suggestions for explaining the fundamental accounting principles to a 10-year-old.

1) Today's Google

Search phrase: how to explain accounting to a child

Actual search results:

The top result is this featured snippet – 

“Accounting is simply bookkeeping work to manage finances, keeping track of revenue, expenses, investments, trends, and goals. By tracking and analyzing, it's possible to plan for the future and set goals.” 

Even though the first few results after this snippet mention child in the title of the link, the explanation is pure dull, adult accounting speak. There’s nothing that a child – or a non-accountant adult – would find interesting.

My rating: 0    Your rating: ____

2) New Generative AI Google Search

Search phrase: I'm an accountant who knows it's important to teach children about money. How would you explain accounting to a child? Give me 5 examples that relate accounting principles to a child's desire to buy things

Actual search results:

The same featured snippet as the top result followed by several not relevant sources. What’s interesting about these results is the majority had one or more search words marked as missing.

My rating: 0    Your rating: ____

3) Bard

Prompt: I'm an accountant who knows it's important to teach children about money. How would you explain accounting to a child? Give me 5 examples that relate accounting principles to a child's desire to buy things


Here are 5 examples that relate accounting principles to a child's desire to buy things:

  • Income vs. expenses. Explain to the child that income is money that they earn, and expenses are money that they spend. Help them to create a list of their income and expenses, and then show them how to calculate their net worth.

  • Budgeting. Help the child to create a budget, which is a plan for how they will spend their money. This will help them to track their spending and make sure that they are not spending more money than they earn.

  • Saving. Encourage the child to save money for things that they want to buy in the future. This will help them to learn the importance of delayed gratification and financial planning.

  • Investing. When the child is older, you can explain to them about investing, which is a way to grow their money over time. This can be a great way for them to save for retirement or other long-term goals.

  • Giving back. Finally, encourage the child to give back to others. This can be done by donating money to charity or volunteering their time. This will help them to learn the importance of philanthropy and community service.

  • Here are some ways to explain accounting to a child in a way that they can understand:

  • Use analogies. Compare accounting to something that the child is already familiar with, such as keeping track of their toys or books.

  • Make it fun. Play games or use other activities to help the child learn about accounting.

  • Be patient. It may take some time for the child to fully understand accounting concepts.

  • By teaching children about accounting at a young age, you can help them to develop good financial habits that will last a lifetime.

    My rating: 2    Your rating: ____

    4) ChatGPT

    Prompt: I'm an accountant who knows it's important to teach children about money. How would you explain accounting to a child? Give me 5 examples that relate accounting principles to a child's desire to buy things


    Explaining accounting principles to a child can be simplified by using relatable examples related to their desire to buy things. Here are five examples that can help you explain accounting to a child:

    1. Money Jar: Imagine you have a special jar where you save your money. Every time you receive some money, you put it in the jar. The jar keeps track of how much money you have saved. Just like the jar helps you keep track of your money, accounting helps people keep track of their money for important things they want to buy.

    2. Piggy Bank: Think of a piggy bank that you use to save money. Every time you put a coin into the piggy bank, it represents your income. But remember, you can't spend the money inside the piggy bank until it's full. Accounting helps you understand how much money you have saved and how much you can spend when the piggy bank is full.

    3. Allowance: Let's say you receive a weekly allowance from your parents. Your allowance is like your income, and accounting helps you keep track of how much you earn each week. When you spend some of your allowance on toys or treats, accounting helps you understand how much money you have left.

    4. Wish List: Imagine you have a wish list of things you want to buy, like a new toy or a bike. Accounting helps you plan and budget for these things. By keeping track of your income and expenses, you can see how much money you need to save to buy the things on your wish list.

    5. Saving Goals: Suppose you have a goal to buy a video game that costs a certain amount of money. Accounting helps you set a target and keep track of your progress. You can save a little bit of your money each week and record it in a special notebook. This way, you can see how close you are to reaching your goal and buy the game once you've saved enough.

    Remember, these examples are simplified for a child's understanding, but they capture the basic concepts of accounting. As they grow older, you can introduce more advanced accounting principles and teach them about income, expenses, budgeting, and more.

    My rating: 3.5  Your rating: ____


    If you client asked you the same question, how would you answer?
    Replace "accountant" with your professional expertise.

    Wrapping It Up

  • AI and all of the tools at your client’s fingertips create the opportunity for your expertise to shine.

  • Clients will include these AI resources in their day-to-day information gathering. DIY becomes easier.

  • Accurate, trustworthy information from real humans has never been more important.

  • Clients will continue to rely on your expertise to give this information context and confirm its validity.

  • Thanks for Stopping By on Thursday

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    Linda Rolf is a lifelong curious learner who believes a knowledge-first approach builds valuable, lasting client relationships.

    She loves discovering the unexpected connections among technology, data, information, people and process. For more than four decades, Linda and Quest Technology Group have been their clients' trusted advisor and strategic partner.

    Tags: AI, ChatGPT

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