From Hollywood into Your Home: The Customer Digital Twin is Coming … with “IDS Inside”

By Prof. Dr. Chris Schlue­ter Lang­don

Deut­sche Tele­kom is an acti­ve mem­ber of the IDSA laun­ching coali­ti­on. Its Tele­kom Data Intel­li­gence Hub (DIH) dri­ves the adop­ti­on of IDS con­cepts, such as with its Trus­ted Con­nec­tor, the first “IDS_ready” cer­ti­fied pro­duct. This IDS imple­men­ta­ti­on is also plan­ned for GAIA‑X, a pro­ject to crea­te the next genera­ti­on, fede­r­a­ted data infra­st­ruc­tu­re for Euro­pe that meets the hig­hest stan­dards of digi­tal sov­er­eig­n­ty while pro­mo­ting inno­va­ti­on. Today, we will be able to use the Data Intel­li­gence Hub as a star­ting point to aid the deve­lo­p­ment of DaWID, a human digi­tal twin initia­ti­ve.

Human Digi­tal Twin

The arts are typi­cal­ly seen as a lea­ding indi­ca­tor of socie­tal trends, poin­ting to a pos­si­ble, pro­bable or pre­fera­ble future of man­kind. One examp­le is the human clo­ne or cyborg or ava­tar. Hol­ly­wood inven­ted or foresaw them a long time ago. Examp­les ran­ge from the dark to the mys­te­rious, from direc­tor David Cameron’s 1993 “Ter­mi­na­tor” movie with the T‑800 cyborg por­tray­ed by Arnold Schwar­zen­eg­ger … to direc­tor Spike Jonze’s Saman­tha, an arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent vir­tu­al assi­stant, play­ed by Scar­lett Johans­son, in the 2013 movie “Her.” Now serious sci­en­tists and lea­ding inno­va­tors around the world are working on its imple­men­ta­ti­on in the con­text of human digi­tal twins.

Figure: Launching team from left, Jan Bartsch, Prof. Dr.  Christoph Schlueter Langdon, Marcel Rebbert, Dr. Sarah J. Becker, Dr. Sven Meister, Florian Lauf, Dr. Marija Radic and Dr. Tobias Dehling

The data para­dox – making head­line news during the 2020 coro­na virus cri­sis

In Ger­ma­ny, one examp­le is the team of experts around DaWID (see Figu­re). DaWID is fun­ded by the Ger­man Federal Minis­try of Edu­ca­ti­on and Rese­arch, and focu­sed on data. Why data? An ava­tar or human digi­tal twin is not made of fle­sh and bones but data. And data invol­ving humans and par­ti­cu­lar­ly data with so cal­led per­so­nal­ly iden­ti­fia­ble infor­ma­ti­on (PII) exhi­bits a built-in con­flict: on the one hand data should have as much infor­ma­ti­on in it as pos­si­ble to be valu­able, even com­mer­cial­ly (“data is the new oil”); on the other hand, in order to pro­tect a human’s pri­va­cy it should have as litt­le per­so­nal­ly iden­ti­fia­ble infor­ma­ti­on in it as necessa­ry. Today’s data anony­miz­a­ti­on, a tool to ensu­re data pri­va­cy, sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly remo­ves per­so­nal­ly iden­ti­fia­ble infor­ma­ti­on from data, which in turn redu­ces the eco­no­mic value of the data.

How to sol­ve this conund­rum? This dilem­ma made front page news during the Coro­na cri­sis: Wouldn’t it be gre­at to be war­ned by an app that I am about to approach an infec­ted per­son? Would it be a good idea to trace every sin­gle infec­ted citi­zen? But what about pro­tec­ting a citizen’s data pri­va­cy? The deba­te has made head­line news: Ger­ma­ny Backs Away From Com­pi­ling Coro­na­vi­rus Con­ta­cts In A Cen­tral Data­ba­se (NPR, 2020-04-27), In U‑turn, Ger­ma­ny backs Goog­le and Apple on virus app (DW, 2020-04-26). This is exact­ly the focus of DaWID: iden­ti­fy­ing solu­ti­ons for a cus­to­mer digi­tal twin that are com­pli­ant with pri­va­cy laws, ethi­cal­ly cor­rect and allow as much data usa­ge as pos­si­ble – inclu­ding mone­tiz­a­ti­on – and as litt­le pri­va­cy loss as necessa­ry.

A strong team of experts: Fraun­ho­fer, KIT, idi­giT and Deut­sche Tele­kom

BMBF picked a thought lea­der, assem­bled a team of top sci­en­tists and inno­va­tors, and sug­gested a win­ning reci­pe. The lea­der is Prof. Dr. Boris Otto, a pioneer in the field of data gover­nan­ce and sov­er­eig­n­ty, who was able to intro­du­ce a first, refi­ned view on digi­tal human twins to the Ger­man Chan­cellor, Ange­la Mer­kel, during the 2019 Digi­tal Gip­fel. The team is run by Dr. Sven Meis­ter, a renow­ned health­ca­re digi­tiz­a­ti­on expert, and inclu­des Fraun­ho­fer ISST and IMW; KIT, Karls­ru­he Insti­tu­te of Tech­no­lo­gy, a Ger­man excel­lence uni­ver­si­ty, idi­giT, a health­ca­re expert affi­lia­ted with Uni Witten/Herdecke, and Deut­sche Telekom’s Data Intel­li­gence Hub with a novel data ana­ly­tics Plat­form-as-a-Ser­vice offe­ring and its IDS-based Trus­ted Con­nec­tor solu­ti­on.

This arti­cle is based on a lon­ger pie­ce on the Data Intel­li­gence Hub Jour­nal.

For a more detail­ed sci­en­ti­fic and busi­ness per­spec­ti­ve, respec­tively:

  1. Otto, B., and S. Meis­ter. 2019. Digi­tal life jour­ney: Frame­work for a self-deter­mi­ned life of citi­zens in an incre­a­singly digi­ti­zed world. Basic Rese­arch Paper, ISST Report, Fraun­ho­fer ISST (link)
  2. Cros­by, L., and C. Schlue­ter Lang­don. 2014. Tech­no­lo­gy Per­so­ni­fied. Mar­ke­ting News, Ame­ri­can Mar­ke­ting Asso­cia­ti­on (Febru­a­ry): 18–19 (link)