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Researchers apologise to big 4 consultancy firms for false AI-based accusations

The big four consultancy firms in Australia have been issued an apology by several Australian researchers after they had accused them of ethical wrongdoing based on false, AI-generated information.

user icon Daniel Croft
Fri, 03 Nov 2023
Researchers apologise to big 4 consultancy firms for false AI-based accusations
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The academic group alleged that the consultancy firms had operated in a way that was unethical and had requested a parliamentary inquiry into their accountability, pushing for the companies to be split and new regulations introduced.

Submissions made by the academic group cited cases identified using AI tools, including several made against KPMG that were found by an academic using the Google Bard AI tool after only a week of using the program.

KPMG was accused of two cases of misconduct, alleging that the consultancy firm had run an audit of the Commonwealth Bank during a financial scandal when it never had.


It also said that KPMG acted complicit during a 7-Eleven wage scandal, resulting in several partners resigning.

Deloitte also received false accusations from the academics, with the firm’s general counsel, Tala Bennett, saying she was disappointed with the inaccuracy.

“Deloitte supports academic freedom and constructive discourse in relation to those matters currently before the committee; however, it considers that it is important to have factually incorrect information corrected,” she said.

“It is disappointing that this has occurred, and we look forward to understanding the committee’s approach to correcting this information.”

The academics alleged that liquidators of insolvent Aussie construction company Probuild were suing Deloitte for an improper order of the company accounts, while in reality, an audit was never undertaken.

Emeritus Professor James Guthrie, one of the academics making the accusations, wrote to the Senate claiming responsibility for the false accusations and asking that his fellow academics be excused.

“Given that the use of AI has largely led to these inaccuracies, the entire authorship team sincerely apologises to the committee and the named big four partnerships in those parts of the two submissions that used and referenced the Google Bard large language model generator,” he said.

“Given we are also accounting academics, we are deeply invested in the public interest and ensuring accountability and transparency in the sector – which is why we unreservedly offer our apologies and deep regret.

“I now realise that AI can generate authoritative-sounding output that can be incorrect, incomplete or biased.”

Despite this, Guthrie maintains that the recommendations the group made for new regulations regarding the conduct of consulting firms remain valid.

This is believed to be the first time AI generating false allegations has been dealt with as part of a parliamentary inquiry.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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