Home / Blog / Cognitive Digital Twins: bridging minds and machine – XII: use of my CDT by third parties

Cognitive Digital Twins: bridging minds and machine – XII: use of my CDT by third parties

    The evolution of Watson. It is an intelligent “machine” able to put its knowledge to use in several fields. The image shows the evolution of Watson’s application capabilities. Watson is now providing knowledge services in several areas, including healthcare. Image credit: IBM

We come now to the second point:

  • what relations my CDT has with third parties (my can refer to “me” as a person or an organisation)?

As previously discussed my CDT has (approximate or even extend) my knowledge space. Also, the general trend, for digital twin as well as cognitive digital twin, is to embed more and more intelligence. This intelligence can make sense of the interactions with the external environment as well as with the internal knowledge, in other words this intelligence transform the knowledge into an executable knowledge.

The concept of executable knowledge is crucial. Our brain is such a “machine”: we don’t just know “things”. We also know when a certain knowledge is needed and how to apply it. Books are different: they embed (a representation of) knowledge but it takes a “brain” reading it to transform that knowledge into an executable one, into action.

Machines, such as robots, also possess executable knowledge, a very simple one may be, but one that they can execute. There would be no reason to have a knowledgeable machine that cannot execute it. That would be a flash pen storing knowledge but to make it useful you’ll need an application accessing that knowledge and transforming it into and executable one.

Cognitive Digital Twins beyond stage 3 possess executable knowledge: this means that a CDT can be used, in principle, by a third party. As noticed, I might be interested in using my CDT as my proxy, I’ll stay on the beach and leave my CDT to do consulting amd making money for me… However, this also means that my CDT could be “highjacked”, my knowledge can be used by someone else.

Now, at first glance this might look like a “theft”. In some cases it might indeed be the case but these cases are already addressed by current legislation. I am more interested in those cases that fall in a grey area.

My CDT is not, necessarily being created and managed by … me. Think about the present situation of profiling being done by Amazon, Facebook, Netflix (just to take well known names of companies operating in different areas -sometimes overlapping). Each of these companies gets data from my interactions with their services and develop a profile that becomes more and more accurate over time and that can be used both to better target their service offering to me and to derive market intelligence from a cluster of their clients.

Now, step back and think about the interactions you have with machines (robots, computers, …) in your company. All these interactions can be collected, analysed and transformed into a CDT that over time will become a very good representation of your knowledge space (in relation to your job). The HR department may use this CDT for resource allocation to projects, making sure the required knowledge is available, they may also use it to decide what training you may require … One point is that the HR dept is the one collecting the data, is the one making sense of those data and eventually using them. They actually think that your CDT is “THEIR” CDT.

Now think about the work you are doing at the company. It may result in the construction of a product, in the writing of a document… Also these activities involve interactions that can be captured and can lead to the creation of your CDT. Here again, this CDT may be considered a property of the company, in the same way that the product you created is a company’s property and the document you wrote.

And here comes the issue: a CDT can be used as a proxy of your knowledge, better, as an executable knowledge. Whoever can use it can use your knowledge (this is the big difference between a CDT and a record in a file of the HR department!):

  • once you resign from the company, in principle they can use your CDT effectively replacing your brain knowledge with the CDT knowledge;
  • if a company has created a CDT of one of its employee it might decide that using the CDT is sufficient and they can downsize the employee;
  • the CDT knowledge could be transferred to a machine and that machine can replace the “brain” that originally owned that knowledge…

We have seen, and we are still seeing, copycats, products that are almost exact copy of an original (usually a well known brand). This is bad but it happens, and it is widespread simply because copying a product is possible: it can be more or less difficult, more or less costly, the demand for copycats may exist or not… Based on these consideration a product will be copied or not.

What is happening now (or it is about to happen) is that executable knowledge can be duplicated.

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.