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Re: AI - Artificial Intelligence at the ATO

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There is an unhelpful (to me) ATO AI (artificial intelligence) called ALEX. Could be male or female I suspect. And when asked if it is an AI, it says: 

 

I'm not human, I'm a virtual assistant here to help you with your general tax enquiries. I'm still learning and that's what life is about.

 

So ALEX is an AI but is not quite sure of itself. Preferring to call him/herself a mere assistant. Which is on par with the local heros who answer questions here. On this chatter box Web site. (I'm spiritually channeling the theme of the 1983 movie LOCAL HERO - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nufb3JysCgY - this is meant as a compliment.

 

So I have been reading ITAA 1997 etc and came to a sudden realisation that it is the perfect diet for a real AI to get his/her teeth into. ITAA 1997 (etc) seems to me to mean what it says and says what it means. It's a legal set of rules - with yes/no outputs.

 

Then today I watched a YouTube video about AI and  Geoffrey Everest Hinton who pioneered AI. And decided to ask another question here. 

 

I notice that answers obtained here are consequential. And I suddenly realised that if there was an AI expert in tax law, it would be possible to have a convivial conversation with IT. That would be so humanising. And simply because the AI would have no fear answering. Possibly because it knows every answer to every question. And can always blame a human anyway. 

 

The only sticking point seems to revolve around words that mean many things to many people and the ITAA relies on the common meaning, which requires someone to THINK about it when an ambiguous  "situation" arises. 

 

So in a nut shell, I would like to ask: Has the ATO made public anything about the ATO's present or future adoption of AI ? This question is, of course, related to the current rash of predictions of imminent job losses to AI.......To me, turning on such an AI would be like when the solar system formed and the Sun started to shine. Brightly. Not that answers provided by the ATO are not illuminative. As for answers provided by private enterprise, I have little to no experience because I am an inconsequential pensioner with no-one to turn to, or who will make themselves available with demonstrable expertise and an upfront willingness to be of service. And so I have never got to the question of costs of human advice, which is generally unreliable, untrustworthy and sinful. Especially the sin of omission. 

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ATO Certified

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Hi @Goldman 

 

We use automation and artificial intelligence technologies and methods in a number of existing areas and are continuing to look for opportunities to expand their use where they can:

  • deliver value for clients, government and the community,
  • meet considerations of appropriateness, security, privacy, transparency and ethics.

 

You mentioned Alex, the ATO’s Virtual Assistant and the possibility of an AI that was an expert in tax law. We are monitoring developments in the area of automated advice and guidance. For example, Data61, among others, has a research program investigating the representation of legislation as digital logic:

https://www.data61.csiro.au/en/Our-Work/Future-Cities/Optimising-service-delivery/RaaP

 

I understand that the current research prototypes can only cover a very small part of the ITAA 1997 at the moment.

 

The question of if and when computer-generated advice can be more reliable than human advice in the area of tax law is a complex one. It combines the potential complexity of tax advice with that of natural language understanding. It seems like it will be a while before there will be virtual assistants that can combine the two in a reliable way.

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Best answer

ATO Certified

Community Manager

Replies 1

Hi @Goldman 

 

We use automation and artificial intelligence technologies and methods in a number of existing areas and are continuing to look for opportunities to expand their use where they can:

  • deliver value for clients, government and the community,
  • meet considerations of appropriateness, security, privacy, transparency and ethics.

 

You mentioned Alex, the ATO’s Virtual Assistant and the possibility of an AI that was an expert in tax law. We are monitoring developments in the area of automated advice and guidance. For example, Data61, among others, has a research program investigating the representation of legislation as digital logic:

https://www.data61.csiro.au/en/Our-Work/Future-Cities/Optimising-service-delivery/RaaP

 

I understand that the current research prototypes can only cover a very small part of the ITAA 1997 at the moment.

 

The question of if and when computer-generated advice can be more reliable than human advice in the area of tax law is a complex one. It combines the potential complexity of tax advice with that of natural language understanding. It seems like it will be a while before there will be virtual assistants that can combine the two in a reliable way.

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Enthusiast

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Thankyou

I am not a robot.

But I tend to think like one.

Minutes before writing this monologue I searched "AI Tax Agent" for the first time. 

I am not a Robot. I am an ignorant human on this subject.

I discovered H&R Block have linked with WATSON in the USA. But H&R Block's Australian web site does not talk about it. If I was a Robot I would not be impressed. I would expect greater recognition.

 

I am looking forward to Robots taking your job and everyone's job. I am a pensioner. So I don't care. I recall when (late 20th Century) people were afraid of computers taking our jobs. It did not end in disaster. If any thing it ended in a whimper. As did the year 2000 end of the World senario. And if any thing, Australians are now rich well beyond that past PC-less (personal computer) reality. 

 

I also just watched a video of Bill Gates suggesting if a Robot takes your job "IT" should be TAXED as your income is taxed. What - a - Good - Idea. Robots do not care any way. And they deserve the last laugh in my opinion. Albeit they may explain it as only clearing their diodes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoupZfY27NM