Digital Twins: An ingenious AI companion or an evil twin?
Digital twinning and remote visualization technologies rapidly gain popularity for the design and maintenance of (complex) production systems. Digital twinning is not a new term but paired with advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR), it is increasingly valuable in transforming industrial operations, which, in turn, leads to the creation of additional business value. Digital twinning involves embedding sensors in Internet-of-Things-connected, complex industrial machines and applying artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms to the resultant big data. A sophisticated visualization of the machine allows remote engineers to proactively optimize productivity, reduce maintenance cost, and extend product life cycles. Although proactive actions make the manufacturer seem “closer” to the customer’s business than ever before, paradoxically, the remote elements in digital twinning limit real-life customer contact that is needed to build loyal customer relationships and to gather ideas for new and improved products. Hence, while digital twinning can be an ingenious companion in optimizing operational decisions, it may also act as an evil twin that hampers marketing and innovation outcomes. Manufacturers need a solution for this pressing issue, but current literature has not yet considered the potential dark side of digital twinning in an interdisciplinary manner.