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Tata Consultancy Services 2023 Predictions: Digital Twins Reach a Tipping Point & Save Lives


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

Digital Twins Reach a Tipping Point & Save Lives

By Frank Diana, Principal Futurist, Tata Consultancy Services

As a new year approaches, it is natural to want to predict what's next. But, a caveat: as the Principal Futurist for TCS, I prefer not to speak in terms of "predictions." I speak with Chief Innovation Officers about "rehearsing possibilities" - understanding possible futures and envisioning outcomes.

The world is complicated, and convergence factors across multiple domains including science, technology, economics, geopolitics and more are only making it more so. Today's ecosystems are highly connected and interdependent. Rehearsing the future must be informed with insight, foresight, and technologies to enable us to probe and learn.

As such, one outcome executives and organizations should be rehearsing in 2023 is digital twins. I see a tipping point coming where the technology becomes rapidly adopted across industries and makes a measurable impact not only in business, but society at large.

Digital twin technology enables the creation of a real-time, virtual counterpart of something in the physical world. With 20 years of improvements in AI, IoT and other technologies, digital twins have evolved beyond their roots in manufacturing to be able to recreate nearly anything in the real world - from a smart city to a human organ.

5G & AI/ML Superpower Digital Twins

Much faster data collection and processing is a huge factor in pushing digital twins to a tipping point next year. The success of IoT has long depended on the speed at which devices can transfer data. With 5G making this near real-time, it becomes possible for IoT sensors to continuously update information, which can be mirrored virtually to a digital twin.

At the same time, AI/ML can now process these inputs, as well as simulate virtual scenarios, at much faster speeds and scale - which is now also happening at the edge, providing more accurate (and when necessary, anonymized) data for experimentation and activation.

Digital Twins Will Save Thousands of Lives in 2023

As a facet of synthetic biology, digital twins have arrived to make a major impact in the lives of thousands of humans - and animals. We now have the technology to fully model biological organs, recreating anything from a heart to a nose to skin, in cyberspace. Not only does this enable doctors to more quickly diagnose current diseases and predict possible future health outcomes, it also means we are getting closer to ending animal testing, forever.

Using a digital skin, for instance, a cosmetics company could test new skincare solutions in cyberspace for toxicity, instead of testing solutions on animals in a lab. What's more, with intensive data processing capabilities, this can be done at scale and at speeds much faster than in the real world - offering both efficiency and ethical reasons for this technology to be adopted.

When it comes to humans and the future of healthcare, we are already seeing strong interest from doctors in having different ways to monitor and measure human biology. A digital twin of a heart can be used to estimate potential future cardiac events, or be 3D-printed to allow hands-on exploration in a surgery and education setting.

Between the impact on humans and animals, digital twins will make a measurable impact to improve lives in 2023.

2023 Will See the Creation of the First "Living" Digital Twin

With the maturation of digital twins, we now have the ability to model both physical activity and mental behaviors in cyberspace. In 2022, digital twins have already been used for everything from predicting recovery time for athletes with injuries to planning return to office strategies post-pandemic.

Taking the technology a step further means creating a true twin of a human being - a digital representation of the body, and also of behaviors, such as choices around what to buy, and how they purchase. In 2023 a "living" digital twin will help political pollsters predict voting choices, marketers manufacture messaging, and doctors innovate new treatments. 

A "living" digital twin that evolves alongside a person at every stage of their life would be incredibly powerful, updated based on inputs and expected scenarios to measure the effectiveness of drugs and other therapies, the impact of lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, drinking, living in a certain area, etc.

There's a reason digital twins are so exciting for many different types of organizations and executives. Like AI/ML, this technology will be foundational for a range of customized innovations and implementations across business and society.




Frank Diana, Principal Futurist with technology leader Tata Consulatncy Services, speaks to Chief Innovation Officers to help Fortune 500 companies prepare for the next decades, which will see humans face transformational events on scales even larger than the current pandemic. Having held a diverse range of C-Suite positions across industries, Frank is uniquely positioned to connect the dots between different technological and societal trends and predict real-world, transformational business impact.

Published Thursday, December 08, 2022 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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