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The economics of the Digital Transformation – XXIV

A Cognitive Digital Twin may become a quite complex entity, on the one hand having to mirror the knowledge state of its physical twin and on the other hand recording its evolution and increasing the experience space by consolidating the ones acquired by its instances. Finally, it expands its knowledge space through access to external knowledge and by self-creating knowledge through analytics and inference. In this latter form it can become a knowledge assistant to its physical twin resulting in its augmentation.

Multiplication of use of knowledge through instantiation

A CDT is a software entity (data and, possibly, processing capability at stage III and IV) and as such it can be instantiated, i.e. copies can be created and activated at the same time. However, the nature of a CDT (as well, although to a lesser extent, a DT) is such that as an instance is active, i.e. is interacting with the environment, it drifts from the original. It is no longer an exact copy. This is because the interaction may lead to an increase of the CDT in terms of new knowledge being created and to an expansion of the Digital Thread (a digital thread keeps track of the history of the DT, and interactions are part of that history).

From an economic perspective, it is clear the value of instantiation. A single CDT can be used in parallel and can thus multiply the revenues. Also, different instances can address different situations and harvest a largest set of data thus feeding more processing and potentially increasing the value of the CDT (it grows in experience).

The issues of managing the diverging instances and the drift of the CDT from the physical twin (person or entity, like a robot) have not been really addressed so far and research is needed.

In case of CDT mirroring the knowledge of a person at time zero it is clear that once the CDC is endowed with self learning capability it will accumulate knowledge that its physical twin does not have. The more interactions in the cyberspace and the more rapid the drift. Add to this autonomy and the drift becomes huge in a very short time.

To manage (partially) this issue a CDT can keep the mirror image of the physical twin (and keep track of the evolution) as part of the Digital Thread. This is important to act as a proxy of its physical twin in those situations where the knowledge status of the physical twin is needed (such as search for the appropriate resource to allocate to a task in a company or to act as a mediator to knowledge facilitating its grasp by the physical twin (the person). The part of the CDT that keeps expanding its knowledge set can become useful once the CDT plays the role of an intelligent assistant.

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.