in printfrom | Journal of AccountancyPreparing for accelerating tech changes.

feat. Ray Kurzweil
January 1, 2023

— story —

publication: Journal of Accountancy
story title: Preparing for accelerating tech changes
author: by Ken Tysiac
year: 2019

note: This story is collected for the Kurzweil library.

— introduction —

by Ken Tysiac

The rise of increasingly intelligent systems, driven by powerful data network effects, poses a threat to certain tasks + roles that have been historically performed by accountants. But this moment also provides new opportunities, according to Jeffrey Rogers.

Rogers is an educator and principal facilitator at Singularity University, and spoke about how certified public accountants (CPAs) can prepare themselves to succeed in the profession — in an environment of accelerating change. Singularity University was co-founded by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis MD + Ray Kurzweil — a best selling author, inventor, and futurist.

— disruption on the horizon —

Jeffrey Rogers said tech such as machine learning models (computer software that can perform advanced computation + pattern recognition) will go far beyond what we’ve seen to date — with robotic process automation that could disrupt rote tasks, compliance enforcement, and validation duties that accountants have grown accustomed to performing. But that doesn’t mean CPAs need to be alarmed.

Rogers said: “I think there’s an opportunity to re-imagine a value proposition that the individual and the organization provide — and then to re-imagine the business model. And there’s an opportunity … to actually engage in the process of determining what the profession and practice can look like and what the future learning models for people engaging in that profession will be.”

— our time of accelerating change —

Rogers said: “Emerging technologies and the social + economic changes they drive will not proceed according to a linear or incremental pattern in the future. Instead, transformation will take place in an exponential fashion during a time of accelerating change.”

Understanding the drivers of change can help CPAs anticipate risks + recognize opportunities. He offered some heuristics that can help people comprehend what changes may bring.

— what can CPAs make of all this —

Rogers said: Living in an era of accelerating change means we’re living in a world that’s always in the process of becoming something new. So we’re always new to the world — and that then means that we have an opportunity + imperative to become something new ourselves.”

To remain relevant and successful in this environment, Rogers said CPAs need to be open and willing to change.

Rogers said: “We still tend to under-estimate the scope of the change and also the pace. At the same time, there’s a lot of opportunity.”

“Embrace lifelong learning. My big interest is helping people see their opportunity. To embrace continuous learning and be in-position to capitalize on the opportunities that a shifting landscape will reveal.”

Rogers is concerned that CPAs who don’t prepare for change will be left behind —as the forward-thinkers in the profession become future leaders and thrive. So while his message is aspirational, he can also serve as a canary in a coal mine if his words are heeded.

— the laws that predict change —

1. Moore’s Law
author: by Gordon Moore PhD

This observation shows the number of transistors in a micro-chip doubles every 2 years — while the cost of computing power is halved every 2 years.

2. Wright’s Law
author: by Theodore Paul Wright PhD

This heuristic plots the relationship between increases in total production in an industry — and exponential increases in price performance of a wide range of tech.

3. Amara’s Law
author: by Roy Amara PhD

This idea shows the impact of a tech is often over-estimated in the short term — but under-estimated in the long term.

4. Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns
author: by Ray Kurzweil

This observation shows tech develops in evolutionary systems — and drives exponentially accelerating (non-linear) change.

on the web | reading

Intel | Over 50 years of Moore’s Law
deck: Fueling innovation we love + depend on

Intel | Intel silicon technology innovations
deck: Architecture for the next era of computing

Intel | Moore’s Law + Intel Innovation
deck: Gordon Moore: raising the bar for silicon technology + innovation

Intel | Moore’s Law time-line
read: report

on the web | reading

Forbes | Wright’s Law vs. Moore’s Law

Edge | What’s your law?
list: table of contents
section: Kurzweil’s Law — aka: Law of Accelerating Returns

on the web | reading

Business Insider | Google’s genius futurist has one theory that he says will rule the future
deck: And it’s a little terrifying
topic: Kurzweil’s Law — aka: Law of Accelerating Returns

Spectrum • by IEEE | Wright’s Law edges out Moore’s Law in predicting technology development
deck: Economies of scale trump time as a factor in driving down costs, shows study of 62 different technologies
topic: Moore’s Law + Wright’s Law

MIT | How to predict the progress of technology
deck: MIT researcher finds Moore’s Law + Wright’s Law best predict how technology improves.
topic: Moore’s Law + Wright’s Law

the Times | Don’t write off the next big thing too soon
deck: From steam engines to computers: the law of new tech is that excessive hype is followed by excessive scepticism
topic: Amara’s Law


— notes —

CPA = certified public accountants
AI = artificial intelligence
ML = machine learning

IEEE is Institute of Electrical + Electronics Engineers
MIT is Massachusetts Institute of Technology