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Protecting your Personal Digital Twin

The banner soliciting support to a UN petition. Image credit: Change.org

All personal digital twins are equal in dignity and rights to their human counterparts and any act upon the personal digital twin that contradicts the Declaration of human rights would be an act upon the human person they represent.

This is the article that MindBank AI is asking the UN to include in the Declaration of Human Rights. They sent the petition to the UN Human Rights Council.

They point out in the petition that according to a Gartner research the personal digital twin will become a transformational technology leading to 5% of humans using it within the next 2 to 5 years.

Independently of the accuracy of this prediction it is worth noticing that personal digital twins are under a spotlight. Considering that personal digital twins were not even mentioned just 2 years ago we  can appreciate the momentum of this technology (fostered, I think, by the pandemic).

There is no doubt that the creation of a digital alter ego is raising (and will raise) a whole new set of issues. In a way some of these issues pre-date the personal digital twin technology as they are related to our presence in the cyberspace (like in social media). The reason is obvious: our presence in the cyberspace when using social media is already a subset of a personal digital twin, we are creating a (partial) model of ourselves by sharing information on what we like, where we are, what we do. The personal digital twin is extending this model providing a more accurate and reacher representation of ourselves.

However, there is a big difference between a personal digital twin and that (partial) digital representation created in social media:

  • in social media we are not the ones “owning” our digital model, it is the social media provider that is accruing our data and managing them. Regulatory frameworks try to place limits on what that provider can do with our digital representation and to gives us some rights on that (like the right to delete our data).
  • in a personal digital twin it should be us creating it, managing it and deciding how to have it interact in the cyberspace (hence how our data dan be shared, accessed).

This is a major difference. Of course it remains to be seen who will be providing the tools to create and manage it.

Interesting times ahead.

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 New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. 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.

One comment

  1. Hello Roberto,

    thanks for the interesting article! Future Generations (or already Gen Z), may perceive the Digital Twin not as something separate, but as a part of them. Also, they perceive one reality, formed by the atomic and virtual reality. When you say the that social media “owns” the digital model, you may even go a step further, social media owns part of the physical original, as we get (strongly) influenced by social media.

    The Personal Digital Twin may become an “official representation” of us, unique like a digital signature. Relevant part of the Citizen Twin.