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  1. While there is a lot of discussion around ethics in technology, and growing interest in these pages in ethics and digital twins, there is a significant gap that needs to be addressed. This is the gap that exists between ethical principles and ethical practice. Kirsten Lamb noted in her discussion on this site back in March that, "The Gemini Principles set out the need for digital twins to be ethical and secure, but ... this can be surprisingly difficult to ensure." This is a problem that challenges a lot of areas of application for digital ethics, most notably in AI and automation (how do you make an AI "fair"?), with obvious implications for digital twins. There are numerous different approaches being trialled to bridge this gap. To date, one of the most successful is an ethics by design approach. This considers the design process for a digital twin and then identifies different ethical issues that arise at each stage of the design. While it doesn't give a convenient tick box approach to ethics (and probably never will or should, given the complexities of the challenge) it breaks down an approach to ethical development into more manageable chunks. Rather than saying "a digital twin should respect privacy", it encourages developers to consider the impacts of their digital twin on privacy at specific stages of the develpment process. To that end, Sopra Steria has published a report on operationalising digital twin ethics in travel and transport. This sets out an ethics by design approach to developing digital twins. It breaks down the development cycle and raises key considerations at each of the stages. Please do not think that if you don't work in travel and transport then this isn't for you! Context is always going to be important in determining ethical issues with digital twins (as noted here) but there can still be learning across contexts. An operationalisation approach in travel and transport can still inform an operationalisation approach in farming, for example, or finance. The key message is getting the ethical issues beyond abstract requirements at the start of a project, and to bake them in to an approach that sees ethical reflection as a fundamental part of the development life cycle. If you would like to discuss ethics and digital twins further then please do get in touch.
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