Digital Twin: the 2018 agile wind tunnel with quantum future

Digital Twins enable testing of real world testing of complex systems. The concept of living test lab has been dream for testers. Digital Twins are not static, but allow for constant new input based on the real world from IoT sensors. Digital Twins make use of AI, Machine Learning, and IoT to simulate complex system behaviors. IBM is working in our labs and with our clients to find exciting new ways to use and create digital twins.

When flight first started, a man had to risk his life to test each innovation. An innovation had a high threshold since the bet was a human life. Eventually, engineers built wind tunnels where they could simulate the effect of the air flow over the plane. While it no longer was risking a life, it had limitations on size (can’t fit an entire 747 in wind tunnel), was artificial, and was costly.  Also how do you simulate more complex events like sudden down drafts, lightening strikes, rough landings, wear and tear over years (metal fatigue, corrosion)? Now with digital twin, you can test the effect of changes to the digital twin of the airplane. We can run 100’s or 1,000’s of changes and combinations of changes to identify the impacts. Only the best of these changes will be put into use.

The while the changes put into use could be small, similar to agile built software application, they would add up to significant impacts. The feedback from the IoT devices in the real world will then update the digital twin allowing new sets of changes to be developed, deployed, and tested before the best combinations are rolled out in rapid succession. As most planes are now fly by wire and highly digital, incremental changes are possible to many of the systems. Today it might not be possible to reshape physical parts like wings, fuselage and rudders, but maybe in the future technologies could reshape the surface to change physical parts of the plane. Clearly there would need to be progression from test bed, to unmanned, to test flights before it went into passenger aircraft, but the rate of innovation in safety related industry goes up by orders magnitude and the risk and costs come down proportionally, too.

The ability to try millions and even billions of combinations in each digital twin is not yet possible as it would overwhelm the compute power of traditional binary computers. The rapidly evolving Quantum Computer may provide the power required to make machine learning nearly unlimited in capacity enabling deep learning and unlimited numbers of combinations of factors in our digital twins. You can even try out quantum for yourself in IBM’s DevOp environment – bluemix.

Benefits of digital twins can apply to almost any machine, group of machines, or ecosystem of lots of groups of machines. I wonder if in the future, a quantum digital twin could be more complex and subtle in its simulation than the real world. As of today, our models of reality pale in complexity to the real world. Below is simply mind map machine systems with a focus on transportation machines. It shows how digital twins can use data from other digital twins. It is model composed of multiple models.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 1.55.54 PM
A network of machine ecosystems that can become digital twins

How could a digital twin help your industry? How can you take advantage of a digital twin to improve the quality of life and leverage the vast amount of data pouring out from mushrooming number of IoT sensors? It is an exciting problem to explore with real business implications.

Advertisements

Saving $1.8T but at what cost? and do we have a choice?

We continue to automate and improve business systems. I’ve spent my whole career improving business efficiency. Each time we do so, we mostly disrupt lower level service jobs and now some medium level professional jobs. We do this because making a business more efficient, effective, and cost competitive keeps that business ahead of its competition.

The recent article by CIO Insight “How Repetitive Tasks Waste $1.8 Trillion” made me consider the consequences, both bad and good. That $1.8 Trillion amounts to a lot of people’s jobs. The downside is elimination will be the elimination of jobs. I once recall discussing how we were going to put in telephonic automation for the service desk when someone said “you know, we just fired 300+ people.” We observed about 30 seconds of silence, swallowed hard, and then finished our task of designing the solution. It was going to happen regardless as most of their competitors had already eliminated large human level 1 service desks. Now we are observing the impact of readily available cloud wiping out many small and medium data center and application support people’s jobs. I’m certainly not against cloud solutions. IoT, Mobile, and SaaS solutions all stem from basic cloud capability and are creating NEW job markets and careers.

Jobs are both a way wage along with an identity for most of us, so I take it personally and seriously. I’ve done both the laying off of people and been laid off. Neither is fun. After I had to lay off my staff, I was physically ill and just thinking about it gives me the chills. I was able to get the best of them lined up with new job opportunities. No one wants to be told they are no longer needed and can be discarded.

To the positive, people can be moved to new jobs. The best companies work with their people to find them jobs that can help the company grow. As individuals, we all need to be on the look out for the possibility we’ll be disrupted by new technologies. There is no job that is immune entirely. Hands on trades people are probably the least susceptible, but even they must learn new skills constantly to stay employed. If you are in job that can be digitized, you need to start planning how to adapt. Your job will be under threat inevitably.

Companies are not social employment agencies and I don’t advocate socialism. I think it is in their best interest to be part of the community, since ultimately it is the community who consumes from them and makes them successful. Companies in capitalistic market that must out compete each other and to do so must make money for the owners / stockholders. In addition, if a company does not continue to move forward ahead of its competition, it will fail and NO ONE will be working for that company.

In the end, the march of improvement and technology is inevitable part of human history. Stopping progress is neither possible or wise. We can and should think about how to do it humanely by recognizing the impact and helping those impacted find ways to be productive members of society. We can use it wisely to improve our conditions as a planet and as human beings.

 

How the Inernet-of-Things (IoT) is consuming me!

I just made an important recognition that I am node connected to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) via my life modem (a.k.a. smartphone). It serves as modem from my analog life to my digital representation and out onto the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Most of recognize that our smartphone records our life in a digital format. In essence it is a modem. Modem is short for MODulate / DE-Modulate which is process of converting an analog signal to a digital one and back. Our phone takes our analog world we perceive with our senses and puts it and more into a digital representation on our smartphone. I may want the info off the IoT, but it needs me.

Great article and image of the IoT from Forbes.

While I used to love to spend time getting to know someone by pouring over someone’s albums (yes, large vinyl disk), tapes, DVD’s, or CD’s, now all I really need to see is there smartphone. Here are some things I might find out just scanning the smartphone.

  •  All your contact information and maybe some of your affiliations based on apps installed
  • Your communications, duration, and frequency with via SMS, e-mail, and voice
  • Your communications, duration, and frequency with apps (snapchat, twitter, etc.)
  • Your locations throughout the days and weeks in the past (GPS)
  • Your plans for the next day, week, month and even year (calendar)
  • What travel services you frequent even w/out opening up the apps (travel apps)
  • Who your friends and acquaintances are and their personal information (every social app and website, communication logs)
  • What you like and dislike in the public space
  • What time you go to bed and get up (alarms, clocks, accelerometer)
  • What music, video, and games you like
  • What publications, blogs and websites you frequent
  • And even more…

All this information is poured up onto IoT plus you enhance it with social data. A few examples are I use Weather Underground for weather and confirm my weather experience up to every 15 minutes. I drive around with Waze or MotionX GPS consuming, entering, and confirming incidents, traffic, traffic cameras, and police cars. In each of these cases, what is the sensor – ME! I spy a traffic accident. I feel cold. I see a fire. I like a song. Have you noticed NetFlix gets quoted on the stats it keeps on us and our viewing which could be via mobile. Other mobile apps have become the authority and regularly report out our behavior, too. We, via our smartphones have become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, source of data for the IoT.

Why does it matter? While I had come to recognize I could get typical sensor data from the IoT like temperature, humidity, amount of fuel, etc on my smartphone, I had not realized how much it was two way street. I was consuming IoT data, but the IoT also consuming me as it needed a human touch and senses and my mobile device is the interface and translator into the digital world. It may explain why IoT’s rise of prevalence seems correlated to mobile devices although the technologies are analogous. It also makes me think different about relationship humans will have with the IoT and why it may become pivotal in our next chapter of technology advancement. Maybe he who controls the IoT might control more than just “things” since we are all jacked in via our smartphones.

Even if I haven’t convinced you are a node on the IoT and that it is important concept, I hope you’ve decided to increase the security of smartphone with a longer, more secure password given that it is digitally you.

I do think our next chapter of technology advancement will be socially even more disruptive, but that will be in my next blog.