Digital Twins

By Rob van Kranenburg, Guest Blogger and founder of #IoT Council

In what we show ourselves we are ignored.
The abyss from soul to soul cannot be bridged
By any skill of thought or trick of seeming.
Unto our very selves we are abridged
When we would utter to our thought our being.
We are our dreams of ourselves souls by gleams,
And each to each other dreams of others’ dreams
Fernando Pessoa

After about thirty years of Internet of Things, aka ubicomp, pervasive computing and ambient intelligence, the know-how of creating, experiencing and sustaining emergent forms of combined physical and digital properties and characteristics, is still underdeveloped.

In The mysterious case of the Disappearing Computer, I3 Magazine, Fall 1999, Mimo Canepeel writes: “What remains unwritten: the plot. What happens? What will make the computer disappear, what will make you not need to use it, what will transform it? What new kinds of environments (and functionality and behavior) will emerge? And how can we make sure that people’s experience of such environments is coherent and engaging, that they enrich everyday life and result in a world that is more alive, more deeply interconnected?”

“Adaptability may be one way of overcoming problems of bad design. If things can adapt and evolve according to the way people will use them, then their use is not so limited by the way someone has designed them. Functionality and use are actually concepts that can emerge with time, rather than being completely pre-determined from the beginning. I think this sets some real challenges for designing in this context. You no longer design with a completely fixed use or functionality in mind, but rather set the parameters within which new things can emerge.” – Jakub Wejchert

Goods, persons, houses, situations and Industrial processes all radiate data and create digital twins. These twins exist as sets of properties in an analytic layer, which is in many hands at the moment, but not really under multi-stakeholder control. Whoever or whatever gains agency in and on that layer (which defines governance of the everyday) must grasp the practice and theory of assigning, withdrawing, validating and defining the very nature of entitlements; who/what/when/where exists how and why?

The situation is hybrid in the sense that the digital twins actually begin to actuate back in the ‘analogue’ objects. This is the moment of ontological change. It demands a new toolset on the notion of identity itself. Uncoupling identity in thinking of “entitlements’ opens up a new field of value and services. In the case of self-driving cars this way of thinking could argue for liability not with real person-identities but with ‘entitlements’; any combination of a particular driver (with particular points on a passport and certain characteristics) and a particular car. This reasoning can be extended to any service in the network.


The public review of Classification of Everyday Living Version 1.0 CSPRD03, announced in https://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/coel-comment/201805/msg00000.html, closed on 23 May 2018. No comments were received.