Attributing C-Suite Decisions to AI Should Be a Non-Starter

As more chief financial officers conduct oversight on their firm’s latest AI implementation, management experts advise striking the right tone with decisions – and taking ownership of those decisions, too.

What CFOs shouldn’t do? Dismiss AI and not take it seriously.

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, firms that drag their heels on AI installs “could risk falling behind” the competition and miss out on improved efficiencies, especially as the technology grows more robust and effective.

“We can participate and learn how to use this technology or we can ignore it,” said Mark D. McDonald, senior director at technology research and advisory firm Gartner, in comments to The Journal. “The choice is yours, but it’s here to stay, and it is going to make a big difference in how we do things.”

That doesn’t mean CFOs shouldn’t beef up protection to curb risk and be lax about accepting whatever Generative AI tools cough up.

Chanley Howell, a partner at law firm Foley & Lardner, who advises companies on AI use says “guardrails to avoid risk” are necessary when building company AI platforms. In fact, assumptions made by AI may be mistaken, Howell says, noting “a lot of factors are in a black box” with AI.

The key for CFOs, Howell says, is recognizing how artificial intelligence renders its own verdicts on company financial issues.

“If you get a result back that says you should cut your prices by 5%, the CEO and a lot of other people in the organization are going to say: ‘How did you arrive at that?’ It’s not going to work to just say, ‘The new AI tool we use said so,’” he told The Journal.

“Particularly in today’s world, with high inflation and so much uncertainty about whether there will be a recession or not, whether it’s 5% one way or the other, it’s not going to necessarily be apparent on its face whether it’s right or wrong,” Howell added.

That’s especially important when a CFO gains insights on how AI decisions are made – and how they can’t be weighed inside a single black box.

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