Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?


That was the answer given by Andrew McAfee in his 2012 TED Talk. Was he right?

McAfee says, “We’ve seen digital tools display skills and abilities that they never, ever had before, and that, kind of, eat deeply into what we human beings do for a living.” One example he gives is language translation. “Throughout all of history, if you wanted something translated from one language into another, you had to involve a human being. Now we have multi-language, instantaneous, automatic translation services available for free via many of our devices all the way down to smartphones.”

So, have language translation apps taken the place of language learning? Not entirely, but maybe they’ve reduced the need for it. The share price of Rosetta Stone, a leading maker of language learning software, has tumbled more than 60% since it went public in early 2009. Other language education companies have seen similar declines in recent years. Although these share price declines reflect numerous factors, many of which are unrelated to the “droids” idea, I’m confident that the decline in these businesses and the demand for language learning in general is due in part to these new technologies that McAfee refers to.

Are droids taking our tax prep jobs? Well, technology has certainly changed the profession over the years. In the past, tax return preparation consisted of paper forms completed in pencil or pen. Those forms were couriered back and forth between accounting offices and data centers where the calculations were done on mainframe computers. Then, the personal computer and tax software eliminated couriers and data centers from the process but tax return preparation was still paper based and manual. Today’s OCR technologies are changing the process even further by reducing the time spent on manual tasks like document organization and data entry.

However, I’ve yet to meet someone that became an accountant because they enjoyed key punching data into tax software. Accountants are trusted advisors. You use your professional expertise to help clients plan their financial goals. Reducing the amount of time you spend on redundant, mundane tasks like data entry only frees up time that can be spent adding real value to your clients. In a sense, the tax document automation droids can elevate the profession.

So, was McAfee right? Yes and no. The droids are certainly changing our jobs. But taking them? I’m not holding my breath. I do however; await with great anticipation, the droids that will do my laundry.

Click here to view Andrew McAfee’s 2012 TED Talk:

What Customers Are Saying About 1040SCAN

  • 1040SCAN PRO is at the core of a highly efficient workflow. It is the elite software in its class.

    Crissie Landry, CPA LaPorte CPAs & Business Advisors
  • 1040SCAN has helped us to standardize our workpapers, while moving the scanning and verification to administrative staff, freeing up professional staff to get the tax files done in less time.

    Barbara Cooper, CPA, MBA Cooper Associates, LLC
  • 1040SCANverify can be a lifesaver for extensions. If you’re in a crunch and you need to quickly calculate an extension payment for clients that have primarily standard documents, it [1040SCANverify] can quickly calculate the tax liability.

    Beth Attebery, CPA The Henry Levy Group, A CPA Firm
  • With SPbinder, preparers can create open items and other notes that are automatically linked to the related workpapers. Then they can export the notes to email. Then I can get the email as the partner-in-charge, I can open SPbinder and quickly go to those pages and answer the questions, and leave a trail showing that it was me who answered it. So that was a process that gained efficiency.

    Jeff M. Lawson, CPA, MST Stoy, Malone & Company, P.C.
  • The decision to center our tax workflow process around SurePrep will prove to be one of the most important choices in the history of our firm.

    Adam Wolfe Bobby Medlin CPA
  • 1040SCAN did an excellent job of getting all the numbers out of brokerage statements… We could very easily get through multi-page Schedule D’s and out of maybe five or six hundred numbers that have to be imported into the return, there were only two or three numbers that had to be changed (in verification). So it was highly accurate.

    Paul Sevigny, CPA, CVA, CFA Stoy, Malone & Company, P.C.
  • 1040SCAN PRO has bookmarked the whole file, perfectly entered interest, dividends and it’s done. With 1040SCAN PRO I’d say that I easily saved 50-75% of my time.

    Susan Shusko, CPA