Australian academics make false AI-generated allegations

Occurred: November 2023

Australian academics used Google Bard to generate fake case studies about alleged misconduct at Deloitte and KPMG.

Macquarie University Emeritus Professor of Accounting James Guthrie and other academics falsely accused KPMG of being  complicit in a 'KPMG 7-Eleven wage theft scandal' that led to the resignation of several partners, and that Deloitte had been sued by the liquidators of collapsed building firm Probuild for failing to audit its accounts. Both allegations were untrue.

Guthrie later admitted the errors in a letter to Australia's Senate and excused the other academics. The academics had urged a parliamentary inquiry into the ethics and professional accountability of the consultancy industry, advocating for regulatory changes that included breaking up the big four.

The incident raised concerns about the misuse of AI in shaping public discourse, and the potential harm caused to the reputation of the named companies, and to the accounting industry.

Operator: James Guthrie
Developer: Alphabet/Google; OpenAI
Country: Australia
Sector: Business/professional services
Purpose: Develop case studies
Technology: Chatbot; NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning; Reinforcement learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Marketing