Does not compute – The limitations of AI in forensic investigations

If a “bot” can write Bach, could artificial intelligence (AI) help to resolve a legal dispute? The answer is yes, to a certain extent, as many complaints are already being dealt with by online resolution services.

Why the reference to Bach you may ask? Well, music lovers were recently treated to a one-night performance of classical music at a London theatre that had been created by AI.

Critics on the night were tasked with distinguishing music that had been composed partly by Bach and partly by AI and asked to identify which was the true Bach and which was computer generated.

Surprisingly the audience struggled to identify which piece was which. This test wasn’t just a fun night out.  Iit was, in fact, an experiment conducted by Marcus du Sautoy, an Oxford mathematician.

The AI interpretation of Bach was achieved through imitation and machine learning, not by truly experiencing the music and getting a ‘feeling’ for the performance.

Feeling or gut reaction remains an exclusively human trait and AI cannot (currently) weigh up an emotional situation in the same way as a human. In certain situations, interpretation and reaction to the facts are needed.

For example, the person in the accounts office who is suddenly going out more and spending more money might have won the Lottery or come into an inheritance from a long-lost relative.

Of course, they might also be embezzling the firm’s funds, and examination of the accounting records using AI to interpret data and trends can often identify anomalies that can be investigated further.

That is where the human element of forensic accounting becomes vital. Humans can look outside pre-determined parameters, talk to co-workers, explore social media and come up with creative techniques for exposing fraud.

Technology clearly has a role to play in the present and the future, but there is ultimately no substitution for proper legal advice and representation from experienced professionals who have a duty to act in a client’s best interest and are not just relying on plain numbers.

Just as each individual is unique, so there is an infinite number of factors that need to be considered in any investigation. Human problems involving an emotional or truly creative response will still most effectively be dealt with by humans…for the time being at least.

As Roger Issacs, Partner at Milsted Langdon, explains: “Technology has come a long way in the last few years and it has become an important tool for forensic accountants when processing data and crunching numbers, but it cannot understand the nuances that only a human can appreciate.”

Posted in Blog, The Forensic Blog.