Government to fund research into AI and accounting services

The government is ploughing £3m into research which will look at how businesses, including accounting firms, can make best use of artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce processing times and save money for consumers, improve customer engagement, and consider how people interact with technology

The funding will go to three projects which form part of the Next Generation Services challenge, designed to maintain the UK’s leadership in global high-value services.

This will consider future uncertainties about the roll-out of new AI technologies in accounting and legal services by using insight, existing studies, developments in AI and service design, as well as analysing the potential barriers to AI-based business model innovation. The project will work with mid-sized accounting and law firms.

It will focus on people’s experiences of new products and services within firms which are particularly sensitive to technological change. Rather than focusing solely on the technology itself, the research will generate insights into the role of people’s usage for innovation and the integration of AI technologies.

In the third project, Professor Armour, from the University of Oxford will look into the use of AI in the legal system.

These projects will run for up to three years and commence in December 2018.

Business secretary Greg Clark said: ‘The UK is the home of AI - from Alan Turing’s pioneering work to today’s growing use of AI throughout the economy. Artificial intelligence is changing how we work, live and play.

‘Through our modern industrial strategy, we want to build on our history of innovation to develop and deploy AI to create new opportunities and improve services across the whole economy.’

Professor Milne from Loughborough University will explore the implications for the insurance industry of new digital technologies, with the support of many of the UK’s leading insurance companies. They will identify and map the range of opportunities for AI based innovation in business processes and business models, across underwriting and risk analytics, claims processing and customer engagement in a project called technology driven change and next generation insurance value chains (TECHNGI).

Report by Pat Sweet

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