Many fans of the Matrix trilogy will certainly remember the famous definition of Morpheus who, explaining to Neo the differences between the real world and that artifact one where humans had been locked up by “machines”, spoke to him about “mental projection of your digital self”.
A concept that we could paraphrase, in fact, speaking of the digital projection of our real self, realizing, a moment later, that we are before the intuition of Maria Pia Rossignaud and Derrick de Kerckhove: the “digital twin”, or our self, converted into the bits which compose the multitude of data contained in the device that more than any other “knows us”: our smartphone.
“The digital twin is the representation or figure of the digitized human because it represents all the great cognitive faculties of the human being. It is the sum of memory, intelligence, judgment. The difference lies in the fact that all the outsourced faculties, by implementing the human faculties, have been transformed into one: the other me,” explain Rossignaud and de Kerkchove in their new book entitled “Beyond Orwell. The digital twin” (ed. Castelvecchi, pp. 57, € 7.5), a very useful tool by which the two authors take us through the folds of a phenomenon that has changed the course of all humanity.
If Orwell, understood as the dramatically predictive vision that the British writer delivered to History with the absolute masterpiece “1984”, peeped into our lives with the advent of the Web and mobile telephony, we can say that there are a precise day and hour when the threshold of Beyond Orwell has been crossed.
We are talking about 9:00 am on January 9, 2007, at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs presented the iPhone, the archetype of the digital twin and, in fact, the first true smartphone in history, capable of revolutionizing our lives by having us constantly connected.
Think about it. Before then, the Web was confined to our computers: desktops or laptops whether they were, once turned off, we were essentially free, while today our time is constantly fragmented by a multitude of inputs capable of affect our behavior and manipulating our opinions.
Just as, hand in hand, our being in and beyond Orwell was substantiated in 2013 by the revelations of Edward Snowden, who disclosed thousands of top-secret documents demonstrating how the National Security Agency listens, spies and intercepts any of our telephone conversations. and every single word we type on our computer or smartphone.
A real struggle to survive while remaining free in this new world whose contours have been redesigned both by the pandemic and the “machine” revolution (to mention the Matrix, again), which we will have to be good at fighting, as explained by Maria Pia Rossignaud and Derrick de Kerckhove in the awareness that it will be necessary to actively participate in «the construction of our digital double with a previously unknown challenge: educating our digital twin, before he educates us».