Have you ever dreamed of being a robot? 

Honestly, I haven’t, but I had the opportunity to be one this past week.

You see, I was able to utilize Me and My Double, a robot controlled by an iPhone to experience the Maryland Society of CPAs’ Innovation Summit.

This experience goes way beyond virtually attending a webinar or even a Skype call for that matter. The one big difference is that it gives you the freedom to actually move.  You can literally “walk” around the room and experience the surroundings via audio and video and even talk to the other attendees and vendors.

Wow. How cool is that!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What was I doing at a Maryland event, when I live in Illinois? I am happy to say Maryland is my new state society.  

I am now a paying dues member.

Why should state location restrict my opportunities for learning? We all know Maryland is the most progressive CPA state. It wasn’t a surprise to find out that 14 percent of their firms are Future-Ready compared to the 8 percent national average of Future-Ready firms. So when I got the opportunity to attend the event as a robot, I jumped at the chance, of course.

Was it a good as attending in person? It was certainly different. It was fun and I had the opportunity to be somewhere without the hassle of travel and TSA. I was able to communicate and it definitely had a cool factor but it was strange to be the only nonhuman in the room, I will admit. 

Diversity at its finest.

Humans greeted me and we had exchanges, but it’s not the same as a handshake. Yet, from an ability to consume data, I felt the “culture” of the innovation summit. That is something that normally is missing when you attend a regular webinar. I was able to “feel” the warmth and friendliness of the Maryland CPAs and all the other attendees. I was able to see how and when people asked questions and it made the experience “real.”

 So yes, it was cool.  

The technology is still in its early stages, and it took me a while to get the hang of being a robot. Plus, it’s weird to have everyone wanting to interact with you. But overall it was a phenomenal experience.

Will robots become mainstream conference attendees? I have no idea, but I do know the future of learning is changing and the Internet is creating fewer and fewer boundaries. CPAs will continue to learn with new technologies and I guarantee our state lines will soon evaporate.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is the CEO and Principal atNew Vision CPA Groupand author of The Radical CPA attheradicalcpa.com