- Jane Wakefield
- Technology Journalist
Most of us have already heard that we had a double, a stranger crossing the street who looked strangely like them.
But imagine that if you could create your own twins, a perfect copy of yourself, who would live a fully digital life?
We live in an age where everything in the real world is digitally replicated – our cities, our cars, our homes and even ourselves.
Much like Hypod Metavers – a project in a virtual, digital world where an incarnation of its own revolves around – the digital twin has become a new technology trend that spreads a lot of ink.
A digital twin is an exact replica of an object in the physical world, but with a unique mission: to improve the real version or to respond to it.
Originally, these twins were not only fancy 3D computer models, but artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things – which used sensors to attach physical objects to the network – made it possible to create a digital object that constantly learns from its real counterparts. And it helps to improve.
“Before the end of the decade,” said technology analyst Rob Enderley, “we will have the first version of what people think of digital twins.”
“Their emergence will require a great deal of thought and ethical consideration, as replicating their own thinking can be incredibly helpful for employers,” he said.
“What if your company created a digital twin for you and said, ‘Hey, you have this digital twin that we don’t pay for, then why are we still hiring you’?”
Mr. Anderley believes that the ownership of these digital twins will become one of the defining questions of the coming era of metavers.
We have already begun the journey of the human pair – in the form of the incarnations mentioned above – but these are now rather clunky and primitive.
At Horizon Worlds, the virtual reality platform of Meta (formerly Facebook), for example, you can give your avatar a face like yours, but you can’t even step on it, because the technology is still in its infancy.
Professor Sandra Watchter, a senior AI researcher at Oxford University, understands the appeal of creating human digital twins: “It’s reminiscent of thrilling science fiction novels, and that’s where we are now.”
He adds that whether a person “does well in school, gets sick or commits a crime will depend on the ever-controversial question of ‘nature versus nurturing’.”
It will depend on luck and misfortune, friends, family, socio-economic background and environment and of course personal preference. “
However, he explains, AI is still not able to predict these “unique social phenomena, due to their inherent complexity.” Sometimes possible. “
Rather, it is the use of digital twins that is currently the most sophisticated and widespread in product design, distribution and urban planning.
In Formula 1, the McLaren and Red Bull teams use the digital twin of their racing cars.
Meanwhile, delivery giant DHL is creating a digital map of its warehouse and supply chains to enhance efficiency.
Increasingly, our cities are being reproduced in the digital world; Both Shanghai and Singapore have digital twins, set up to help improve the design and operation of buildings, transportation systems and roads.
In Singapore, one of the tasks of its Digital Twin is to help find new ways to avoid polluted areas. Other places are using technology to suggest where to build new infrastructure, such as subway lines. In the Middle East, both in the real world and in the digital world, new cities are emerging.
French software company Dassault Systemes says its digital twin technology is now attracting the interest of thousands of companies.
To date, she has used the digital twin to help a hair care company digitally design more durable shampoo bottles instead of endless real-world prototyping. It helps reduce waste.
And it allows other companies to design new future projects – from jetpacks to motorcycles with floating wheels, to flying cars. Each of them also has a physical prototype, but this initial model is refined in the digital space.
But it is in the field of health that digital twins present a real added value.
Dassault’s Living Heart project has created an accurate virtual model of the human heart that can be tested and analyzed.
The project was founded by Dr. Steve Levine, who had a personal reason for wanting to create a digital twin. Her daughter was born with congenital heart disease and a few years ago, when she was twenty years old and at high risk of heart failure, she decided to recreate her heart into a virtual reality.
Boston Children’s Hospital now uses the technology to map the heart pathology of actual patients, while at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, a team of engineers is working with clinicians to test devices that can help children with rare and difficult heart treatments.
One of the most controversial aspects of scientific research, Dassault’s director of international affairs, Severin Truillett, says, testing animals with a digital heart also reduces the need for animal testing.
The company is now planning to have twin children with other digital organs, including the eyes and even the brain.
“At some point, we will all have a digital twin, which will allow us to go to the doctor, take more preventative medications and make sure each treatment is personalized,” said Mrs. Truillet.
The race to create a digital version of our entire planet is probably more ambitious than the reproduction of human organs.
US software company Nvidia Omniverse runs a platform designed to create virtual worlds and digital twins.
One of his most ambitious projects is to create a digital look like Earth by capturing high-resolution images of the entire surface of the Earth.
Earth-2, as it is called, will use a combination of deep learning models and neural networks to mimic the physical environment of the digital sphere and provide solutions to climate change.
In March of this year, the European Commission, in particular in collaboration with the European Space Agency, announced its own project to create a digital twin planet called Destination Earth.
By the end of 2024, he hopes to get enough data from real-time observations and simulations to create a digital twin that will focus on natural disasters such as floods, droughts and heat waves, as well as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.