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The economics of the Digital Transformation – XIX

A Cognitive Digital Twin for a person mirrors its physical twin knowledge, acquiring them in various forms. I also acts as a gateway to that person knowledge through API. Finally it acts as knowledge mediating agent delivering as needed and in the most effective form access to external knowledge.

Exploitation of Knowledge Digital Twins

Digital twins are used by industry to mirror production processes and products. This mirroring is becoming more and more extensive to cover knowledge aspects. The adoption of Personal Digital Twins to mirror a person knowledge, Cognitive Digital Twin -CDT-is just a natural further step.

The availability of a person’s CDT can open up significant economic possibilities:

  • Better allocation of knowledge resources
  • Improve training effectiveness –continuous education- decreasing cost
  • Improve cooperative working exploiting complementary knowledge
  • Search for knowledge in the network of CDT
  • Delegation of function to the CDT for interaction in the company cyberspace
  • Exploitation of knowledge in the cyberspace
  • Multiplication of use of knowledge through instantiation
  • Decoupling of CDT knowledge from the physical person

– Better allocation of knowledge resources

Being a mirror of the knowledge of a system, like a robot or a person, CDTs can be searched to find a required knowledge and better allocate resources. There are several ways for making this possible including inquire broadcasting (who can do this? Have you ever faced this issue?…). Notice that a Digital Twin is an interactive entity, it is not like a data set that can be searched by … Google.  Hence standardisation of APIs or self declaration of APIs and their semantics is needed.

In case of CDT mirroring humans the issue is obviously how to create them so as to have a mirror of that specific person knowledge. Again, this can be done in several, complementary ways:

  1. having the person self-declaring her knowledge set;
  2. having the person responding to pre-defined questions/completing drills and inferring the knowledge;
  3. monitoring the activities performed and inferring the knowledge used and acquired;
  4. tracking courses and trainings;
  5. monitoring daily activities, also outside of the working hours.

The interaction with a human CDT can result in the building up of a dynamic CV. Notice that points 3 to 5 are constantly executed by the CDT itself to keep track of the evolving knowledge set of its physical twin.

Firms can develop CDTs of their employees, and in one form or another they usually do, ie each firm knows the type of knowledge resources it has. Using CDT makes this knowledge easier to reach and manage. Clearly, monitoring an employee activity by a firm has to stay within certain limits and monitoring an employee outside of the working hours is a no-no. Through the use of CDT this monitoring may become acceptable since it is the CDT doing the monitoring to keep an accurate mirror image of its physical twin and a company can only access this info through an agreed API that is under the control of the CDT (i.e. the access is monitored by the CDT).

The technology can be used by the individual, i.e. the owner of the CDT is its physical twin, or by the company, i.e. the company creates the CDTs of its employees and owns them.

Most companies have information on their employee knowledge but most of the time this information is limited and not in a form of be readily executable. Quite often this information is captured at the time of hiring and it is not updated as the person acquires specific experience.

The adoption of CDT requires a different process in the management of knowledge and a definition of ownership procedures that today, in most cases, are focusing on the result produced by a person knowledge –i.e. regulation on patents’ rights- not on the knowledge itself.

– Improve training effectiveness –continuous education- decreasing cost

A CDT associated to a person can act as a gateway to external knowledge access and as a transducer of that external knowledge into a form that it would be easier to digest. A CDT can also be assigned “knowledge goals” like:

  1. monitoring the evolution of knowledge in a given context
  2. acquire information on knowledge gaps and on ways to fill them
  3. provide timely notification on possible need to acquire knowledge to perform a specific task
  4. provide link to knowledge sources
  5. convert external knowledge into executable knowledge (i.e. knowledge that can be used by the physical twin)

All of the above make training more efficient (faster and cheaper) and to the point, i.e. dedicate effort to training when needed. Also, more sophisticated version of a CDT can step in as trainer on the job providing continuous training reinforced by the opportunity of using acquired knowledge as they are acquired. This can on the one hand decrease the cost of training for a company and on the other provide effective training to the employee that enhance her knowledge.

… to be continued

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.