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In this Issue: June 2019

The seemingly ever-accelerating pace of new technologies represents tremendous promise for business and society. But along with that comes uncertainty—the questions of understanding and adapting to new technologies, as well as the risk that new technologies will create their own problems. In this issue, our authors grapple with the implications of a variety of emerging technologies on the accounting profession and the business environment more generally.

Machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) wherein computers are programmed to continuously analyze increasing sets of data, learning from the process to recognize patterns and make decisions. Gabe Dickey, Sandra Blanke, and Lloyd Seaton describe the kinds of repetitive audit tasks that machine learning can handle. The technologies promise more efficient audits, but the ultimate impact on firms and staff is yet to be seen.

Even though most would agree that data has become increasingly important to businesses, opinions vary about how to accurately value and manage the data that companies possess. Virginia Collins and Joel Lanz argue for treating data like any other asset.

While technologies like AI promise to help auditors assess risk and detect fraud, Mark A. Nickerson raises the question of whether they might actually make these tasks more difficult by enabling fraudsters to better conceal their actions and avoid detection. Machines learn from human behavior, and if they are not taught well they may prove dangerous students.

High-profile corporate data breaches have become commonplace in headlines. The AICPA's answer for reducing this business risk is its System for Organization Controls for Cybersecurity (SOC-C) risk management reporting framework. Abdullah Al-Moshaigeh, Denise Dickins, and Julia Higgs detail the benefits and limitations of such services for CPAs.

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