This session explores and evaluates the ethical issues of using artificial intelligence (AI), to develop and assess the competency of trainee accountants. Competency is conceptualised as a set of morally orientating practices, understandings and personal characteristics (Ugiagbe-Green, 2017). Development and assessment of competency requires a continuing evaluation of what is right and what is wrong. Accounting academics, professional accounting education policy makers and workplace mentors (n=28), responsible for the initial professional development (IPD), of trainee accountants, were interviewed as part of a recent PhD study, exploring the mediating role of technology in the context of competency development and assessment.
Beliefs expressed by Professionals interviewed, indicates ethical issues associated with the use of AI for competency development and assessment rooted in its perceived lack of emotional intelligence and empathy (both of which are imperative for both competency development and its assessment). However, Professionals acknowledge that the use of AI may change the perception of the reality or influence and lead to changes in the actions of trainee accountants. This collective view, concurs with the work of Latour (1992), who suggests that technology affects the decisions that we make and how we make them.
The author is a newly appointed Course Director of Postgraduate programmes in Accounting and Finance at Leeds Business School. She is seeking to use (AI) as an integral part of competency assessment within the portfolio of Accounting and Finance courses for which she is now responsible. Her recent PhD research has shown that in order for AI to be used in a value-enhancing way for competency development and assessment, it (technology), has to be used purposefully, as it mediates action (Verbeek, 2007). Within a competency assessment context, this means to mediate moral orientation, value judgements and professional identity formation.
The session will present ethical issues such as power relations, control, moral agency and value based judgements, associated with competency assessment. These issues were identified by Professionals (n=28), responsible for the initial professional development (IPD), of trainee accountants, who were interviewed for a recent PhD study exploring the mediating role of technology. During the session, members of the audience will be encouraged to consider whether the use of AI in a professional competency development and assessment context, raises other ethical issues e.g. lack of moral freedom, as a result of its mediation and control within competency development and assessment learning spaces.
Latour, B. (1992). “Where are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artefacts,” in W. Bijker & J. Law (eds.), Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Socio-Technical Change, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT press, pp. 225–258
Ugiagbe-Green, Iwi (2017). Exploring the construction of verifiable evidence in a technology-mediated competency assessment environment according to the experiences of accounting professionals. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.
Verbeek P-P. (2006), ‘Materializing morality: Design ethics and technological mediation’ Science Technology & Human Values. Vol.31(3), pp.361-380