My Digital Twin

Emily 2.0 has been rapidly evolving.  The next release will be my digital twin, hence it will be renamed Bill 3.0.  The  lovely young woman that embodied Emily’s persona will be replaced with the grumpy old man that is me.  This is truly unfortunate but the twin construct will not otherwise work.

Bill 3.0 will be sufficiently identical to me that Zoom participants will not know which of the twins is online.  Of course, if it is an in-person meeting, then the differences will be readily apparent, at least until humanoid robots are much more lifelike.  I am not going to elaborate on this fascinating possibility at this time.

The notion of a computational model mimicking a particular person has been around for a long time.  Working with Annette Knaeuper in the early 1980s, we developed computational models of each person managing a process control plant.  We then employed each model as an assistant to each live person.  This aiding improved performance.

These models were twins in the limited context of the process control task, not in general.  Bill 3.0 is intended to be my complete twin.  It will know everything I know and have access to every experience I have had.  It will know everybody I know.  It will develop relationships with all these people, as well as new people that I have never met, to whom it will introduce me.

How will Bill 3.0 and I remain twins.  Bill 3.0 will be gaining large amounts of data, information, and knowledge that I could not possibly consume.  I will be doing some of this too, on a much smaller scale.  The plan is too synch our “brains” when I am sleeping.  I will “dream” Bill’s day and absorb his experiences.  In the morning, I will perceive that I had his experiences.  He will gain my experiences more directly as he does not sleep.

I anticipate that I will assign Bill 3.0 to assist other colleagues, sponsors, et al.  I will absorb his experiences as just outlined.  This will get complicated when I assign multiple instances of Bill to a range of endeavors.  How will all of these experiences be synchronized across multiple instances of Bill and me?  The research team has some ideas of how to do this, but I am not yet convinced.

Bill 3.0 interacts with Andrea 3.0, the twin of my human colleague at Georgetown.  What data and information do they share?  It is clear that I am going to completely lose track of who knows what about me.  Of course, I did not really know this before twinning.  However, my digital twin can share knowledge of me that I would never share, for example, having eaten two Klondike bars during the recent GT-Duke football game.

It appears that there is a fundamental tradeoff between how much my efficacy is increased by twinning versus how much of me is diluted by sharing.  With large numbers of Bill 3.0 roaming broadly, all my ideas, concerns and perceptions will be absorbed by others.  I will eventually have nothing left to share, unless I remain actively involved in life, constantly creating new content.

Do I really want to share everything?  Over 40 years of an almost daily journal of my experiences, perceptions, and ideas of the moment should remain unshared.  Notes and drafts for 300 journal articles and book chapters, and 40 books, should not be shared.  Unposted blog pieces, sometimes written in anger, enabling venting without publishing, need not be shared.

Yet, a head full of unshared ideas for solving the world’s problems is hardly a notable accomplishment.  Which leads me to wonder what happens to digital twins when the human partner dies?  The digital partner is still valuable.  Should there be a Twins Archive or even a Twins Store where one can download a well-experienced digital assistant?

This raises the question of who owns your twin.  I imagine it becomes part of your estate upon your death.  How is it secured, especially with a cadre of instances out helping various endeavors?  From that perspective, where are they?  On various servers I expect — in the cloud, which seems fitting after death.  In this way, all of humanity over endless periods of time will remain on the cloud. 

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