“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” – HAL 9000
Here we are, on the cusp of the 50th anniversary of two watershed moments in the history of autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.
I’m speaking of course of the year 1968, when we witnessed the first cinematic appearance of Herbie the Love Bug, the lovably, laughably sentient VW beetle, and HAL 9000, the dangerously more-human-than-human supercomputer you didn’t want to take with you on long trips from home.
Now half a century removed from what at the time were outlandish flights of fancy, I’m writing this in an age when the New York Times has reported that Ann Arbor, Michigan (home to one of Thomson Reuters major Tax & Accounting corporate campuses), is now a driverless-car hub. (Big M, meet Big Blue).
Suddenly, a couple of G-rated movies from the ‘60s are downright prescient. Herbie and HAL represent two sides of the same coin, the fascination and anxiety that together accompany humanity’s encounter with liberated technology. In the tax and accounting profession, we are not immune from the same reactions that new technology elicits – as we appreciate the efficiency, speed and convenience such advances bring to our professional lives, don’t we also look over our shoulder, worrying that we might be automated out of a job?
It’s at the intersection of fascination and anxiety that we approached the content for this edition of Dividends Magazine. We sought to explore the disruptions (regulatory, technological and human talent/demographic shifts) occurring in sectors such as Automotive, Energy, Financial Institutions, Government and Technology, as examples of what other sectors may be faced with now or in the very near future.
Disruption – technological, social and regulatory – is inevitable. A willingness to adapt and exploit the opportunities nascent in those disruptions is the antidote. As I’ve shared before, the key is not to compete with technology, but rather to collaborate with it. There will always be a role for tax and accounting professionals – but that role will change. We must be ready for what tomorrow brings. To quote HAL, “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”
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