Digital Twins and the Valuecosm

I strongly recommend Human Performance Enhancement in 2032: A Scenario for Military Planners, by John Smart. This scenario, written for the US army, makes several intriguing assumptions about the future, most of them highly relevant to simulation.

In particular it looks at the future human-machine interface: what might our systems do for us? It makes positive, optimistic, and highly original suggestions.

One is the idea of Digital Twins (DTs) – an enhanced, complex, personal bot which will know our preferences and lifestyles, and will guide us on everything from personalised diet and shopping to major life decisions, based on interaction with the internet. A sort of digital life-style coach, able to interact with other DTs to make introductions, smooth our path, prequalify negotiations, etc.

Another is the idea of the valuecosm – the way in which data is associated with an object. (bar codes, loyalty cards, etc., are the start of this process.) Gradually the data becomes “all the ways our choices express our values and goals, and the ways we use to measure our progress toward them”. Feedback allows us (and our DTs) to maximise the “positive sum” of all our actions. Or “It is simply all the data and systems we use to chart our preference landscapes for all the goals and choices we publicly and privately share about ourselves. It profoundly influences the way we make …. choices today.”

Its a complex argument and I havent summarised it well. On the downside, I think it becomes unrealistically Utopian (and a bit too nice to the US Army, but then they paid for it and are to be applauded for doing so.) There are some interesting speculations about the ways the military will use warfighting simulations in future: almost as a substitute for war. (“Due to the increasing influence of the valuecosm, and the lack of any enemy which can oppose us in major conflict, the majority of warfare logistics today are focused on post-engagement development. Virtually no warfighting takes place between governmental organizations these days. The battles are breathtakingly short, and the postwar development programs are where almost all the strategic thinking and political effort goes, usually even before the war begins. Most warfare is telerobotic, and simulation-optimized, but this really isnt my specialty, so Ill say little about it. I refer you to others who will tell you that the modern theater of war has very few humans in harms way in during initial engagements, and a large number of warfighting superspecialists operating in symbiont networks on the other end of all those lethal and non-lethal machines.”).

He has a fascinating idea that all small weapons and munitions ought to be tagged (with the equivalent of an RFID) so that they can always be traced. Im not sure its practical, but if I were a peace activist Id want to read the essay and think this one through very carefully.

And he reminds us that “most of tomorrows innovations have already occurred […and are…> patiently waiting for enough resources, social approval, or a new network to make them irresistible.”

Ive signed up for the “Accleration Watch” newsletter, which seems to be the voice of John Smarts group. (At least I hope I have, his sign-up page isnt working… ).

One to watch.

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