School of Mathematics

Buzzwords unwrapped: Artificial Intelligence and Digital Twin

This is the first of an occasional series in which current prominent terms are unwrapped. Sometimes it is the case that there is a precise definition to be found which resolves all confusion over the meaning of such terms. More commonly however, it is not possible to identify a single definition on which everyone can agree, and the alternative to provide an explanation of the issues in play - which this article seeks to do. When using terms such as "AI" and "Digital Twin" which do not have settled meanings, it is usually helpful to explain what you mean, and if someone else uses such terms to ask them what they mean. Assuming people have a common understanding without checking is likely to prove a recipe for trouble.

This article surveys the range of meanings that the two terms can take, and provides a brief discussion of the issues underlying these ranges of different meanings. Understanding these is perhaps the most important step in using and interpreting the terms with confidence, as the terms themselves are in the end just words, whereas the underlying issues are the real substance.


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