Even though the concept of digital twin technology has been around for several decades, it has recently started to make waves in the world at large. Businesses of all types are using real-world data to figure out how their systems and products will perform in a simulation. The guys delve into the many uses of digital twin tech, from testing building products to supply chain mapping and much more, and then discuss how it might be implemented in the legal profession.
Later, Elon Musk now owns Twitter, and reactions are ranging from uproar to “who cares?” amongst the Twitter populace. Dennis and Tom share their thoughts on the change and what they plan to do with their accounts.
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for the answers to your most burning tech questions.
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Mentioned in This Episode
A Segment: Are You Expecting Digital Twins?
B Segment: Elon Musk Owns Twitter – Now What?
Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software, Metadata… Got the world turning as fast as it can? Hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors, and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to The Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode 325 of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode, we shared some of our best tips to become a wizard at Microsoft Teams, a very important skill these days. In this episode, we went look into the new universe of something called digital twins and what that might mean for all of us. Tom, what’s on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, will indeed be discussing what to expect in this world of digital twins. In our second segment, we will return to the ongoing question of Twitter with the specific question being should we stay or should we go? And as usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots of that one tip website or observation that you can start using the second that this podcast is over. But first up, we were in the mood to take on a technology development that we haven’t seen much about and certainly don’t see it talked much about in the legal technology area, and introduce it to our audience. And that topic is something called digital twins. Dennis, I can’t help but notice that lately when we want to cover a seemingly new technology topic, we find that it’s been around 20 years.
Actually, I found that the book that it was first described in goes back to 1991. So, even probably sooner, longer than that, I am not embarrassed to admit that I never heard of digital twins before. So, why the sudden interest?
Dennis Kennedy: I’ve actually been seeing quite a bit about this and it’s an interesting development that I think illustrates one of these areas. And I think this is a really important area for people in the world of legal technology is what I call what’s old is new again. So, taking some of the ideas that have been around for a long time and seeing how they look now and how they might work now in a world where things are faster, where we have more data, where we have artificial intelligence, where we have more processing power, all those sorts of things. And suddenly, they become a lot more interesting and it kind of sneaks up on us. So, yeah, so the notion of digital twins, you said 1991, certainly 20 years ago that I think the term started to be coined.
And some people push it back to the 1960s in the space program with the idea of that sort of in simplest terms, you’re gathering real world data and kind of putting into a digital format, so you can kind of mirror what’s happening in the real world. And I think if you just take that concept and build on what we could do, which centers the new technologies we have, it just becomes really interesting. And given some of the things that have happened with COVID and other things, it’s an area that is seeing a lot of development. So, I’ve sort of sketched out a little bit what digital twins are. Tom, you can probably come up with a better definition than I just did.
Tom Mighell: So, here is the definition since I will always try to come up with the simple basic definition. Here is what I think is a definition that I can get behind to understand. So, a digital twin is a virtual representation of a real world physical system or product. So, it’s digital, it’s a virtual copy, identical copy of a real world system or product. And in these days, it’s mostly products, but it’s getting to systems that serves as an indistinguishable digital counterpart for purposes of simulation, integration, testing, monitoring and maintenance.
So, it’s something that is currently for the most part designed to have a digital version, so that you can make the physical version better I guess is the best way to put it is to improve upon it, to make sure that it still works, to use that digital version to help the physical version do what it’s supposed to do. To me, the better question then what is why, why digital twins, why is this important first really to anyone and then maybe secondly to lawyers?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I think where it becomes interesting is that it becomes a less expensive way to do more and to test more and to try new things. So, if you think about aircraft and race cars and things like that, you had the wind tunnel and you had the other ways to test things, crash testing, stuff like that. There’s actually a lot of cost to that. And so, if you say, “If we could kind of create using centers of digital version and do some of those testings and do it in a less expensive way, that becomes interesting to us, because we can save money,” we might be able to do different types of testing. We might be able to learn some information. We might be able to do things a little bit faster and the monitoring could be more sensitive and finally tune. So, I think those are some of the practical aspects of what you can do.
And I guess Tom will talk about the classic examples are I mentioned car, these sort of race cars in place. But to me, the best example these days are buildings, and that’s the example I’ll probably turn to. But I’d also say although there’s some overlap, it’s worth I think talking a little bit to say, “Is this different and how is it different from things like virtual reality, augmented reality, even of artificial intelligence and some of the other things that we’ve talked about?” yeah, what’s your sense for that, Tom?
Tom Mighell: I hate to say it’s completely different, but to me it utilizes all three of those things. So, it’s something that you can work on a digital twin either in a virtual reality environment or in an augmented reality, you can go and look at the digital twin and work on it in either of those environments. And then frankly, what kind of exciting me the most is that we’re seeing the ability to use AI to improve the Digital Twin from its original, physical version. It’s just feeding the data to that physical or to that Digital Twin. So, I think that a Digital Twin really can make use of all three of those. It’s not really any of those types of things in my opinion. It happens to use them in some format to get its job done.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. And I think that for me, another difference is in a Digital Twin you are really trying to duplicate like identically what’s out there in the real world in a digital world, so you can work with it. So, it’s not like we’re creating something specifically for virtual reality space or whatever. We’re actually taking all the measurements we get, all the sensors we can get, everything that we’re getting this information to put it into an identical digital model that we can observe. And so, I’d like the example and the one that if you research this topic, you’ll see a lot is just the basic office building. And so, I have the office building out in the real world and I have all these sensors all over the place and I’m getting all this information on the systems of the building, what’s happening in the building and I can observe things. And it starts to get more and more sophisticated.
So, you could say, “I notice that the temperature in this area is significantly lower than in another area. And you’d say, “That’s something we need to check,” or you could start to see things, “Oh, it looks like there is a leak in the roof,” and so we can do that. Or you could say, “What if we put that building through this big storm that’s coming?” What are the effects that we’re likely to see? And so, you have that digital representation of what’s happening in the real world and you can start to stress it, look at it in different ways and you can also look at improvements and how changes and modifications you might do, what impact that might have rather than just sort of making educated guesses at it, actually having an identical digital model of the building that you’re working with.
Tom Mighell: I like that example from my understanding, for me to be able to understand that I feel like part of what makes that complicated is that a building is a whole ecosystem. It’s not just a single component or a single product. It’s a lot like a ton of component. So, in learning more about this, the example that really hit home for me was much simpler than that and it was really just the basic wind turbine.
You can attach a sensor or sensors to a real world wind turbine out in the field that’s gathering the wind and that’s going to then feed data to the digital twin on the energy output, how much energy it creates, the temperatures, the weather conditions. So, you can probably have lots of other data. And then once the twin gets all that data, then it can say, “Okay, it’s not working well enough to do this, we need to do this to optimize its use.” Or it looks like that when the wind is like this, it gets a little hitch and that we need to diagnose and fix a problem, because it’s losing output at certain times of the day. And then even improve upon itself and create new wind turbines. So, it kind of is something that monitors it along, but it also is improving on it for future products. So, when we get to the benefits that you talked about, you are talking about cost being a benefit.
I think that time is another benefit of this is that you are speeding the time to get to market a product, you’re speeding the time to repair or fix problems that arise, because they’re either anticipated or they’re seen within that digital twin. And there’s lots of options there when we start talking about things like the supply chain and being able to map an entire supply chain to a digital twin from the entire process is kind of a whole lot more interesting to me than anything we’ve talked about, because if you can monitor not only the equipment and the tools that are part of that, but also the business process that’s part of it, you’re able then hopefully to improve the speed of your supply chain. You can see where you get roadblocks. You can see where things slow down, you can see where you might lack resources to do things, and you can get them ahead of time.
And I think the idea is that if you start mapping this out in something like a digital twin, it will help you speed that supply chain up. So, because you’re not having to worry about things that you can’t foresee, you’re able to foresee them in the digital twin.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I think another benefit is an access. I mean a wind turbine is actually a good example. If you have something that it might be hard to access, because word is physically or it’s high up in the air and somebody has to climb it or other things like that, if you can kind of monitor what’s going on and maybe make changes, test the changes in the digital twin and then send the modifications to change the device or product in the real world, you see the benefit there. And I think that really the analogy of what happened with space travel and satellites, manned space flight, that sort of thing where you can say we can model things on the ground and we say, “It seems like there’s a gas leak somewhere,” and then figure out what that is and then relay to people how to fix it, those are some of the benefits.
And so, I think a lot of what’s happening now of all the things we talked about cost, access, these sort of 500-year storms and floods. And so, the modeling that we need to do is different. I think it’s kind of fueling the surge. And then I think that Tom, you mentioned AI. I think that once we see the 6G environment, even faster broadband speeds and then quantum computing, other things like that will really open up the space even more, so that we can just do a lot of things using virtual twins where we don’t have to recreate things in real life. And that will open up possibilities for I think maintenance, preventative maintenance, unbelievable potential there, experimentation and improvement. And I guess I see a time as right now as you said is physical world and products, but your example in supply chain is great one, I can see it kind of moving to services and delivery of services and how different parts of that service process get pulled together, and where you do find log jams or delays.
Tom Mighell: And that brings us to the practice of law, and we definitely need to talk about that. But before we do that, let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsors.
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Dennis Kennedy: And we are back. So, Tom, let’s get practical about digital twins or digital twinning and ask the question where our listeners most likely to run in to this in the legal world either now or in the future.
Tom Mighell: So, as we said before we took a break, we’re seeing most digital twins take place in physical world or to replicate the physical world and or products. But that supply chain example was something that could easily move over into the area of process or services, I would guess that digital twinning is something that doesn’t happen a lot right now in the legal field. If it does, it’s probably in something closer to the area of contracting, because that seems to be where all the energy goes to these days in legal technology is to contract development and lifecycle management. And I just don’t know enough about that industry to know whether they’re taking advantage of that sort of thing. But I think that what I find interesting about digital twinning for the legal practice is whether or not you can — and I’m looking at some analogous things from the world of the physical.
Let’s say for example that you’re — I have seen examples of retail stores that talk about creating a digital twin out of the average customer. What does the customer do online versus in-store stuff? Experience with their customer service line, how much they’re likely to spend on a yearly basis, gather all the data you can on the average customer and build a digital twin. And then run simulations on that and figure out what’s that twin likely to do. And can you analogize that to the legal market? Or is there a digital twin of the average family law client or the average personal injury client or things like that? I wonder whether there are either data points that you have about all of your clients that you can begin to map out and create that might then help you one, serve them better. You can better anticipate what their issues are going to be maybe. It might help you better anticipate how to market your practice to bring them in better.
So, that’s literally me spit balling here in the last five minutes without having put it down in my notes or anything like that, is I would like to see this twinning go to an area where it’s actually affecting the process of representing a client and not just some sort of legal technology play.
Dennis Kennedy: It’s interesting what you’re saying there, Tom, because I hadn’t really thought that much about it until you were saying that. But you do see people creating these personas of the client or the buyer. And you come up with a couple of ideas and then these are based on gut feeling about some things. It’s a little bit of data, but maybe you could start to pull data into creating these things. So, that’s sort of a fascinating down the road sort of approach. So, I’m really kind of intrigued what people might do. I’m sort of thinking in terms of say that I have the condo that collapsed in Florida, say that there were enough sensors in there that in the case that was involved in that whether it went to a jury or not, we could actually have a digital twin showing what happened when it collapsed.
Or you could say in an accident, you might be able to tell what was happening or that you said this didn’t break in the wind, it was something else and then you could kind of show that it happened. I think that when I was thinking of contracting, I thought that just kind of putting for lawyers who had a client. So, you’re a real estate lawyer and all of a sudden, you have a client who says, “We’re doing these digital twins of our buildings now, we need a contract that covers that.” Like that is not a trivial legal project to do the contracts for that.
And so, I think we start to look at those things and it takes us into that world that we’re around these days in AI. Okay, so what are the algorithms, how are these digital twins constructed. If we use them in a court setting, like how do we know it’s close enough? And then that intriguing world of how do we analyze things like to show us when we need maintenance versus how do we make predictions and diagnosis? So, those are some of the things I thought about, Tom. You may have some more as well.
Tom Mighell: As a former litigator, the thing that I think about most is going back to that supply chain argument. Let’s say that there was a breakdown that product didn’t arrive in time and there is litigation between parties for a breach of contract saying, “You didn’t get me my stuff on time,” having a digital twin that mapped out the entire process would allow you to say, “Here is right wherein the process had failed and it wasn’t our fault. It was the fault of the …” blah-blah-blah or whatever it happens to be. And you are able to then demonstrate right then and there here’s what happened, because we were tracking it from the very beginning all the way through the cycle that it’s happening. I think that lawyers to have this kind of ammunition at their hands when they represent clients like this. I could see that that would come in very, very handy. And I think more to your point, the other example that I come up with is, is the product liability case? If there’s something that fails, if a part of an automobile fails and causes a big crash, if a building fails like you said or an airplane or something, if the simulations that were ran on that is part of a digital twin show the likelihood of failure was extremely low, what value, what evidence, what weight would that evidence be given in court? Maybe high.
I have not seen that type of evidence being offered very often in terms of digital twin. I’m not sure if we’re there yet, but I think that as organizations there, I believe and as I’m preparing for this, I read a statistic that 70% of technology leaders of major corporations are involved in creating some sort of digital twinning project for their company. So, companies are starting to do it. And I think that lawyers need to be aware of when it’s happening to see whether they can take advantage of it if they ever have to represent that company or client somewhere in litigation or a business deal or something like that.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah and I think there are these other things like around the building thing if you’re able to show like, “Oh wait, now we can show you that all the doors were locked,” or, “This one door wasn’t locked at a certain time and this was the level of light. It wasn’t that there was a light bulb burnt out, because our sensors are showing that there was a light there and here’s what it had to look like,” that’s interesting. I think that there’s this less of intriguing use is in the medical area as well as sort if you think about it, I would just think about this if there were like a digital twin of me and if there was a way that doctors could try out like the potential side effects of medications or like a surgery technique they wanted to try or something before they actually give it to me or use it on me, that could be interesting too. So, I think it’s an area that is one of those places that feels initially like some form of science fiction, but it’s probably a lot closer than we think and maybe in some ways already here and lots of potential.
And Tom, it goes back to that technology confidence thing that I think that for some lawyers, you’re going to find yourself that this is something you need to know about right away. And for others, it’s something that if you know something about it, may create new practice opportunities and help you serve a different set of clients. So, definitely in a new technology in a sense, I mean an old technology in another sense, but one that’s sort of the new platforms and what we’re capable of doing these days will be over the next couple of years really brings into play.
Tom Mighell: And I think that’s as good a place that I need to stop. But before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick break for more messages from our sponsors.
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Tom Mighell: And now, let’s get back to the Kenney-Mighell Report. I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. So, we did an episode a while back about what people might do if Elon Musk bought Twitter. Well, it’s happened and people are talking about leaving Twitter in droves everyday lately. Now, whether they will do that remains to be seen, but there’s a lot of discussion about using Twitter, leaving Twitter and Twitter alternatives that some people might go to. So, question comes up of course, what are Tom and I planning to do? So, Tom, will you reveal your current Twitter game plan?
Tom Mighell: Well, to be honest, I’m really not sure why we’re having this conversation right now, because the only thing that has changed is that Elon Musk now owns the company. If you have a visceral reaction to Elon Musk, then by all means, cancel your account. Just do it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know personally where you get your data that people are leaving in droves, where that actually comes in. But for me —
Dennis Kennedy: I said that people say that they are leaving in droves.
Tom Mighell: That means then that as a group, because you use the word “in droves.” In droves, people are talking about it. Here’s what it is for me. Wait and see what he’s going to do. And two, see if what he’s going to do will affect me. That is kind of my plan right now. They made an announcement today, I’ve been wanting for a long time get the blue checkmark, the verified checkmark to say, “Here’s who I am.” I felt like there’s some sort of prestige value to it and they kept denying it to me when I applied for it. Now I learned I can get it for the low, low price of $8.00 a month, which means that just anybody can now be verified. And I’m like, “That is something that probably could make a lot of money, but I have no desire in paying $8.00 just to have a blue check mark by it.” I just like the fact that I could be verified otherwise.
You know, if policies change, if the overall climate starts to change on Twitter, I might think about leaving, but think about this also. I think our Twitter worlds reflect the content that we want to see. If you don’t want to see divisive or offensive content, don’t follow those people. In my tech law and legal tech bubble that I’ve created on Twitter, I only see what I want to see. And what’s going on everywhere else doesn’t affect me at all. Now, I do subscribe to a couple of newsfeeds that if I followed them down the rabbit hole, I would see some really ugly nasty stuff, but I never see any of that stuff. And so, right now, what could or might happen doesn’t affect me at all. I still get the news that I want. I still interact with the people I want to and I don’t have any problem with that.
Now, if there’s a policy that morally I can’t get behind or if we see lots of people joining who are allowed to do truly horrific things, that’s a different question and it’s a different consideration for me. That hasn’t happened yet, and so it’s hard for me to say. So, for now, I’m going to stay put. I’m going to see what happens, business as usual. But let’s check back here in six months or so and see what happens. I am not convinced that Elon Musk knows how to run a company like Twitter and I am very interested to see how he handles or does not handle it over at least the next six months. Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I think it’s a fair question whether anybody can run Twitter at this point effectively. If you would ask me, this morning I was saying, “I think I might have to leave,” and then by this evening, I was like, “No. Trouble is it’s this big public form and it’s a place that I like,” because as you said, as you illustrate, Tom, I have control over the things that I see and I use it for certain task. The other thing is that after 15 years on Twitter, I finally feel like I have my Twitter voice and I know what I’m using it for. And so, I don’t want to leave that, because it does a lot of things. And so, I saw people talking about places they might move to and it’s just like good luck to them, because then —
Tom Mighell: They’re really in a good place.
Dennis Kennedy: There are some places, but it’s going to take a whole lot of work. It’s going to be completely different interfaces —
Tom Mighell: And a whole lot of people.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. And it’s not going to be what people expect. So, I made a list of things that I will probably build out a little bit more to give me alternatives, but I realize that nothing really takes the place of Twitter in what it’s doing for me. So, to keep up with people, I would look more at LinkedIn. I know that for news, I would go to Apple News and probably do a little bit more in the mainstream news sites. Some of the people that I direct message on Twitter, I might do texting or some other messaging for certain specially topics and those are people who follow me on Twitter know that like ancient archeology and things like that that I’m interested in.
I’ll probably explore Reddit a bit more than I have. I may look at some specially, you know, small communities and mini networks. But I don’t think there’s one thing that takes the place of Twitter. And I sort of think it’s that sort of public market place of ideas that unless Elon runs it totally into the ground and out of business, I think it’s going to be a significant place for a lot of people where the kind of conversation is driving a lot of things happening in the world, you know, our responses to it are happening. So, I think it’s kind of hard to just completely walk away from it. Ask me tomorrow morning, I might have somewhat different opinion, but I’m building out some potential alternatives. But I think that I’m likely to stay and observe what’s going to happen. But I’m like you, Tom, I don’t really see the need to pay for some of the things that people are talking about having us pay for. Now, it’s time for our partings shots, that one tip website or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: So, I saw the site on the Great Recomendo Newsletter site this past weekend and I thought I would mention it. And it’s a website called What’s That Charge?! And I will say this happens to me more often than I would like where I’m looking at my bank account and there’s a charge on it that’s just a mass of letters and numbers, and there’s a phone number and there’s a couple of letters there and I have absolutely no idea what the charge is. And What’s That Charge?! is designed to help you figure out what it is that actually is making the charge. And there are references to lots and lots and lots of weird strange charges that you might see on your card, but there’s also a search box, which actually just takes you to a specially configured Google search to go look for it out on the internet. Because generally in most cases, if you’ve been charged this before, other people have probably been charged of it before at some time, but I think it’s useful.
Rather than immediately jump to the conclusion that your debit card has been hacked and someone making charges, it might be that you made that purchase of flowers for your spouse and they got charged to something that you don’t recognize. So, take a look at whatsthatcharge.com. It’s free to use and it looks like a pretty good resource.
Dennis Kennedy: Two things for me. So, I have a little bit of announcement. So, I was just appointed the full time director of the Michigan State University Center for Law and Technology and Innovation, which I think means I have to say that I’m officially unretired at this point. So, I’m looking forward for the next couple of years of directing the center and building it. The other parting shot I want to mention is updated to macOS13. And there’s a new feature in OS called stage manager. And this is something I didn’t realize how much I would just totally like. And so, the idea with stage manager is that the document or program you’re working on takes up most of your screen and then let’s say like the last half dozen things you’ve worked on just kind of icons for those go off to the left side and you just can kind of move from one program to another just by clicking on it.
And then the next one just comes up one thing and takes all of your focus. So, a lot about focus. Those of you who are familiar with Alt+Tab in Windows, similar kind of concept, but it’s just really well executed and helps me focus and kind of is a lot better than what I was doing, which I think was a parting shot at another time of putting for different programs up in fixed places all over my screen. So, this is sort of one thing at a time and easily to move them, but it really helps with the focus side of things. So, if you’re in the Mac world and thinking about going to macOS13, I think this is something that you will like and you’ll definitely want to explore.
Tom Mighell: Well then, congratulations, Dennis on your appointment and welcome back to the world of fulltime employment. And so, that wraps it up for this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. You can find show notes for this episode on the Legal Talk Network’s page for our show. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or on the Legal Talk Network site where you can find archives of all of our previous podcasts along with transcripts. If you like to get in touch with us, remember, you can always reach out to us on LinkedIn, Twitter or remember we love to get a voicemail, 720-441-6820.
That number again is 720-441-6820. So, until the next podcast, I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. And you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an internet focus. If you like what you heard today, please rate us in Apple Podcast and we’ll see you next time for another episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, only on the Legal Talk Network.