Everyone Gets a Digital Twin

That’s what Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, predicted during South by Southwest 2024.

Discussing the institute’s 17th Annual Tech Trends Report with Fast Company editor-in-chief Brendan Vaughn, Webb said three technologies are pushing the current tech super cycle: artificial intelligence, biotech, and an ecosystem of interconnected wearables.

“We’re at the beginning of something that will really reshape human civilization,” she said.

Webb said technology is evolving to a point where everyone and everything could eventually have their own digital twins. That includes anything from your home to your car to your body.

For personal digital twins, smart connected wearables would send real-time data to the virtual twin, which would maintain an identical reflection of its human counterpart.
Humans make millions of tiny motions each day they’re not even aware of.

Processing and storing that amount of data comes with incredible challenges, as well as privacy and ethical concerns. For example, if you’re logged into business and personal accounts on your face computer, AI could potentially expose sensitive private activities to your workplace.

Digital twins are a recurring theme in the 979 page Future Today Institute report, which covers about 900 trends across 16 industries and sectors. The institute says digital twins will “revolutionize enterprise operations by enabling virtual prototyping, testing, and optimizing.”

Digital twinning unlocks opportunities to “digitally iterate designs and stress test ideas for better quality,” the report says.

On human digital twins, the institute notes pioneering research is being conducted using complex computational models to replicate disease mechanisms with genetic, molecular, and environmental data points.

At an individual level, potential digital twin applications include personal health monitoring, optimizing learning paths, enhancing productivity, and simulating scenarios for more informed decision making.

A personal digital twin could act as a highly personalized assistant who delivers insights based on real-time info about one’s physical and digital interactions.

An even more futuristic potential use case: 3D printing replacement organs.

Integrating medical imaging, modeling, and bioprinting technologies, the digital twin of a patient’s organ could guide the design and production of a biocompatible and functional replacement.

AI and machine learning are advancing in tandem with digital twin technology.
Their interplay is becoming increasingly sophisticated, so digital twins are getting smarter.