Meet the Digital Twin you probably didn’t realise you had
On the 25 May 2018 your Digital Twin was born. Your twin had been in quiet gestation for years, if not decades, but in May 2018 they were finally born. Or to put it in relative terms Under the General Data Protection Regulation, you have the right to access, rectify, port and erase your data. It is this data that constitutes your Digital Twin, and it is the new legal right to access, rectify, port and erase that data that constitutes their official birth into the world.
Congratulations, it’s a data set.
What is a Digital Twin?
Simply put a Digital Twin is a bridge between the physical world and the digital world.
The term Digital Twin isn’t new and has been used since around 2002. The recent rise of the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing has rapidly accelerated the applications and implications of the Digital Twin in the paradigms of products, services and systems. Now every ‘connected’ / ‘smart’ / ‘system’ / ‘device’ /’networked’ entity has its very own Digital Twin.
Your Digital Twin — Date of Birth: 25 May 2018
On the 25 May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, and for the first time in the history of information technology every citizen of the EU was legally entitled to officially meet their own Digital Twin. Rather than visiting a maternity ward this introduction was facilitated in the same digital world that our Digital Twins inhabit, on screens, in browser windows, on websites and apps, and as compressed files and data sets. Simply clicking a ‘Create File’ button (in Facebook’s case) gave instant birth to a version of our Digital Twin. This file only showed us what our Digital Twin looked like at that moment in time, however, everything it could and might yet be able to do was, and still is, largely unknown to most of us. We have countless Digital Twins, in Facebook, in Twitter, in Google (and for each of its numerous products), in Youtube, in Instagram, in Snapchat, in Pinterest, in Linkedin, and in every email list we’ve subscribed to.
We just became a ‘thing’ of the Internet of Things
Just like a Nest thermostat or Fitbit activity tracker, we are each now a connected node of the Internet of Things. We are a ‘thing of the internet’. Our bodies, behaviours and thoughts all have parallel existences in the form of our Digital Twins. Like the upside down in Stranger Things the parallel dimension of our Digital Twin is charged with complex paradoxes, relative interdependencies to the ‘real world’, and dark intentions. The pairing of our physical-world-self and our virtual-world-self allows for real-time data monitoring and data analysis of our exact location, actions, behaviours, thoughts, interests, and immediate / aspired need states. The creation of our Digital Twins has covertly metamorphosed our physical self into a ‘connected value asset’ that is subject to increasingly sophisticated surveillance, manipulation and exploitation.
Our Digital Twins aren’t the usual kind of family member.
The paradoxes of Digital Twins
You open Snapchat and see a mirror image of yourself on the screen as captured in real-time by your phones front-facing camera. You are seeing a reflection of your Physical Twin (self) until the exact moment you ‘snap’ yourself. Now that ‘snap’ is your Digital Twin while you carry on being your Physical Twin.
Your Physical Twin receive a message or email. Your Digital Twin automates your ‘smart reply’, which is then sent from your Physical Twin via your Digital Twin to someone else’s Digital Twin to convey to their associated Physical Twin. Who might well use their own Digital Twin to reply to you and your Digital Twin.
The startup Phantom Auto is currently developing technology that would create the ability to have a human ‘phantom’ driver to briefly take control of a self-driving car whenever the robot encounters what engineers call “edge cases” — traffic scenarios too complex or unpredictable for a computer to safely navigate. The ‘Car Digital Twin’ (as a human at remote location in a physical replica of the ‘Car Physical Twin’) now becomes the ‘Driver Physical Twin’ until the ‘Car Digital Twin’ (of the self-driving computer) replaces itself in the still empty driving seat.
The ghost is still haunting the machine.