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AI-backed accountant takes multilingual approach to membership bid

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An accountant seeking election to the ACCA Global Council has used an artificial intelligence translation tool to dub herself into Mandarin, Spanish and Hindi on campaign videos, in a move that could have wider implications for the future of similar ballots.

23rd Oct 2023
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While much of the attention on artificial intelligence in accounting has focussed on how it can help with day-to-day work, one accountant has leveraged its wider functionality in a bid to win the hearts and minds of her fellow professionals.

Heather Smith, an Australian accountant and technology specialist seeking election to the ACCA Global Council, was looking for a way to boost her profile with the accountancy body’s global membership and came across a novel idea to help get the votes needed.

Smith recorded a short video promoting her candidacy in English using the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered video tool HeyGen.com. The software then allows users to translate their videos into different languages, including changing the speaker’s lips to match the translation. 

The result of this first creation was a 50-second clip of Smith speaking Mandarin Chinese (below), despite Smith not being a speaker of the language:

The message encourages ACCA members to vote for Smith in the current elections, outlines that the video had been created with the help of artificial intelligence, and concludes with the message that “artificial intelligence will not replace accountants, accountants using artificial intelligence will replace accountants.”

Smith then took her English script, asked ChatGPT to translate the text into written Mandarin, and posted the resulting video and copy on her various social media channels. She then repeated the action for the major languages spoken by the ACCA membership to reach more people, including Spanish, Italian and Hindi versions.

 

‘Surely my apps can help me?’

“I've been a member for close to 30 years, it's my fourth attempt and it's pretty stressful!” Smith told AccountingWEB. “I don't have a Big Four workforce behind me or a consort of colleagues to vote for me. It’s a real struggle to get the votes needed, so I have to think outside the box. I love my apps – surely I can get them to help me?

“Initially, I thought I’d give TikTok a go, to reach a younger audience, but then it struck me that ACCA has 241,000 members in 178 countries and so far I’d only been campaigning in English,” she added. “There was potentially a huge number of members, whom I as an English speaker, was simply not connecting with, and that’s when I started researching translation tools.

“I’m told that the translation is of a relatively high standard, but sometimes my ‘avatar’ seems to refer to me as a ‘he’ in some of the languages.”

Wider implications

Along with garnering more votes from ACCA’s global membership, Smith believes her tech-led push has wider implications for the future of similar ballots and campaigns.

“It’s certainly a glimpse into how technology could shape political and professional elections in the years to come,” she said. “There’s also an inclusion aspect for membership  – using AI to localise a campaign message, making it resonate with ACCA members from various linguistic backgrounds: promoting a more inclusive election process and making it more accessible to people who might otherwise be left out due to language barriers.”

Smith also raised the hot-button issue of ethics when it comes to deploying AI-powered software. 

“You have to ensure your use of AI tech is ethical and transparent, especially when it comes to language translation and lip-syncing,” she added, pointing out that earning users’ trust is the only way accountants will adopt AI tools en masse.

ACCA members have until 1pm UK time on Thursday 26 October 2023 to cast their vote in the Global Council elections. Details of how to vote should be available via an email sent to all members from the  [email protected] address.

Replies (3)

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By Markcairns67
25th Oct 2023 10:26

If that video is AI generated, that is scary good! A native Mandarin speaker might know better but at least to me it didn't seem like a voiceover at all.

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By Mark Lee
25th Oct 2023 14:21

What an astonishing story and example. Many thanks for sharing it Tom and well done Heather. Great initiative. Totally agree with heather's final message: “Artificial intelligence will not replace accountants, accountants using artificial intelligence will replace accountants.” The only question is how long this will take. It won't be tomorro or even next year.

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Replying to bookmarklee:
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By Brodders
26th Oct 2023 10:03

Exactly how i felt! Brilliant, innovative use and if i was a member of ACCA i'd vote for her

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