Accountants say aye to automation
Finance professionals welcome the rise of artificial intelligence, automation and robots despite the fears ranging from job losses to doomsday scenarios.
According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), 83% of its 1,628 members backed the idea of more automation if it saved time and money or helped with indecision.
“This indicates that accountants regard the impact of new technologies as an opportunity rather than a threat,” it said.
CIMA said only 29% of respondents believed that the increased automation would lead to job losses and greater inequality, while 62% said companies would be more efficient.
“Meanwhile, over one-third of them felt that there would be a better work-life balance as computers will take over jobs while humans continue to reap the profits,” it said.
Only 22% of respondents said a reliance on automation or technology had led to their organisations making a wrong decision in the past five years, it added.
“About 40% said this never happened as they knew they could not solely rely on automated processes. Instead, the results are double-checked,” it said.
Meanwhile, CIMA chief executive officer, Andrew Harding, said: “Our members believe that artificial intelligence, robots and other technologies will alter, but not destroy, the jobs of accountants and other professionals in the finance sector.”
Dive.ai gets ex-GM exec on board
Silicon Valley self-driving startup Drive.ai has named to its board a former Wall Street investment banker and General Motors Co executive.
Steve Girsky, a former GM vice chairman and Morgan Stanley alum, was named a Drive.ai director last week. The appointment comes roughly five months after GM bought Cruise Automation, a one-time rival of Drive.ai, for US$1bil. Just earlier this month, Uber acquired another one-time rival, Otto, for an undisclosed sum estimated at close to US$700mil.
Drive.ai is one of a handful of startups building fully autonomous systems for cars. It plans to distinguish itself through its expertise in robotics and “deep learning”, Carol Reiley, the company’s president and co-founder, said.
Girsky, who left GM’s board after seven years in April, was instrumental in reviving the Detroit automaker following its 2009 bankruptcy, the company said.
Drive.ai wants to build a hardware and software kit powered by artificial intelligence for carmakers. It is already working with unnamed vehicle manufacturers, but has not disclosed a timeline.
The startup believes self-driving is best achieved through deep learning, which enables systems to “think” for themselves.
“I view a self-driving car as a robot,” Reiley said. “This will be the first social robot that goes into the world.”
Uber hires senior Target exec
Uber Technologies Inc has plucked a top executive from US retailer Target to help lead the growing ride-services company and reshape its image.
Uber said it hired Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer for Target Corp, to oversee the bulk of its global operations. Jones will be president of ride-sharing at Uber, running local Uber services in every city, as well as marketing efforts and customer support.
The hire underscores efforts by Uber to bolster its reputation and brand. Since 2009, the company has aggressively expanded to more than 450 cities, at times steamrolling regulators and launching campaigns against local lawmakers.
Jones joined Target in 2012 to rejuvenate its brand and is credited with modernising the retailer’s marketing efforts. He led campaigns including #MoreMusic, under which Target partnered with singer Gwen Stefani for a live video that aired during the Grammy Awards and released exclusive tracks from artists such as Adele, part of an effort to burnish Target’s cool image.
Prior to that, Jones led marketing for Gap Inc and worked for Coca-Cola and advertising firm McKinney.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a blog post that he and Jones met in February and “within minutes we were debating how Uber could improve its reputation.”