Digital doubles: In the future, virtual versions of ourselves could predict our behaviour

Digital twins could be used in the future to predict and influence our behaviour, but this raises concerns about who owns our data and how we can access and control it.
A digital twin is a copy of a person, product or process that is created using data. This might sound like science fiction, but some have claimed that you will likely have a digital double within the next decade. As a copy of a person, a digital twin would — ideally — make the same decisions that you would make if you were presented with the same materials.
This might seem like yet another speculative claim by futurists. But it is much more possible than people might like to believe. While we might tend to assume that we are special and unique, with a sufficient amount of information, artificial intelligence (AI) can make many inferences about our personalities, social behaviour and purchasing decisions.
The era of big data means that vast quantities of information (called “data lakes”) are collected about your overt attitudes and preferences as well as behavioural traces that you leave behind.
Equally jarring is the extent to which organizations collect our data. In 2019, the Walt Disney Company acquired Hulu, a company that journalists and advocates pointed out had a questionable record when it came to data collection. Seemingly benign phone applications — like ones used for ordering coffee — can collect vast quantities of from users every few minutes.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal illustrates these concerns, with users and regulators concerned about the prospects of someone being able to identify, predict and shift their behaviour.
But how concerned should we be?
High vs. low fidelity
In simulation studies, fidelity refers to how closely a copy, or model, corresponds to its target. Simulator fidelity refers to the degree of realism a simulation has to real-world references. For example, a racing video game provides an image that increases and decreases in speed when we depress keys on a keyboard or controller. Whereas a driving simulator might have a windscreen, chassis, gear stick and gas and brake pedals, a video game has a lower degree of fidelity than the driving simulator.
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A digital twin requires a high degree of fidelity that would be able to incorporate real-time, real-world information: if it is raining outside now, it would be raining in the simulator.
In industry, digital twins can have radical implications. If we are able ...