Why Blockchain and Digital Twins Are Good Partners
If the 'data-rush' history has taught us one lesson, it should be about the data security and privacy
Data is good. Data is vital. Data is progress. The technology to harness, process and interpret the data from our world is constantly improving. Thanks to these technological advances, today, we can dream bold of finding solutions to the most complex problems challenging us. Yet, like the Yin and the Yang, the darker side of the technology emergence is, factions wanting to exploit them.
If the data-is-the-new-oil-rush has taught us any lesson, it should be about the data security and privacy. Data is collected through unscrupulous means from unsuspecting people. Companies know much more about individuals than the individuals themselves. Worse, time and again, the data gets exposed and leaked putting millions at risk.
What has data and breaches got to do with Digital Twins? Why should Blockchain and Digital Twins be seen as good partners? Let’s find out.
The Lure of the Unseen Data
The Digital Twins core principle is, for a physical entity or an asset, a digital equivalent exists in the virtual world. To replicate a physical entity – be it a machine, infrastructure or a living being – data is extremely important. The nature of data required will go beyond what is gathered currently. New data streams, comprising of physical attributes, inter-object interactions and future states, will be seamlessly exchanged between the digital and the physical worlds. Like a swarm of bees drawn towards the nectar, the so-far unseen information, will certainly draw the bad actors.
The ‘Collective’ Breach
One of the key USPs of Digital Twins is in the power of the collective. While Digital Twin Instances (DTI) are mirroring a physical entity or asset, the Digital Twin Aggregates (DTA) is an aggregate of individual DTIs. The driving principle between DTAs is “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”. A breach of a Tesla DTI will compromise one car. A breach of Tesla DTA will expose an entire fleet. A massive outbreak will firmly put the brakes on the progress.
Tampering the Future
Simulations are core to the Digital twins, with the intent of crunching the amassed data and predict optimal future scenarios. This is a potent use case for embarking on a Digital twin journey for the enterprises, the individuals-- and the fraudsters. In the case of enterprises, tampering the underlying data could result in a skewed prediction, putting the competition on a wrong trajectory. When it comes to the individuals, the last thing anyone wants is a tele-marketeer informing them about a predicted health condition and pushing products around it. A firm line has to be drawn between what is acceptable and not. Stakeholder participation and consent, a key missing piece today, will become the norm tomorrow.
Blockchain as a Powerful Antidote
The emerging blockchain technology has the potential to fill the gaps and put Digital Twin programs on the track, right from the word “start”. With the core tenets of blockchain technology — trustless, decentralization and immutability — as the backbone, Digital Twins projects can innovate better and remain safe.
The IoT devices collecting data from and transmitting to the physical world can be secured using the Blockchain technology. By ensuring a robust source authentication and data transfer mechanism, using the cryptography properties of Blockchain, Digital Twin programs can be assured of the data immutability. The history of the physical world can be stored and played back accurately, as it happened.
By powering up the DTAs using Blockchain, an effective decentralized ecosystem, will become a reality. Through a consensus mechanism, multiple stakeholders, collaborators and warring parties, can be brought under one umbrella. The stakeholders become the gate-keepers, enforcing transparency and accountability, without compromising on the sensitive information and the benefits to be accrued from the collective.
As the world rushes towards a digital future, Digital Twins have a lot to offer. The rapid adoption of the Digital Twin concept, therefore, comes as no surprise. The security and privacy concerns are for real. External factors will continue pushing the limits and exploiting the vulnerabilities. Incorporating security into the design is a good place to start. Blockchain offers that chance to Digital twins.
Vijay is the co-founder at PrayingMantis.in, a tech-startup working on Digital Twins, Blockchain and AI/ML. He also advises leaders on digital technologies. He lives in Bengaluru, India.