Digital Twins – Defining Work

Work, in mechanics, measurement of energy exchange that takes place when an external source moves over a space at least some of whose perimeter is being pushed away from the source by an equal amount of internal force, and at least some of whose area is getting pushed toward the source by an equal amount of internal force. If the external force is steady, work can be derived by multiplying the total area of the area getting pushed toward the source by the proportionate amount of force acting on the same area. Thus, the product of the areas, which can be real or ideal parts of a space, and the times, which can be measured in seconds or fractions of seconds, are the measured amounts of motion. A little modification of this method of working shows that the product of the areas and the times, which can be measured in milliseconds or micro seconds, are the measured velocities. Thus, the product of these two, the time, is the time difference between the instantaneous motion that results from the motion of a source and the deformation, or heating, of a body at rest.


This redefining of work may also redefine human capabilities. The improvement in technological capability implies a progress in our capacity to do tasks. However, the improvement in human capabilities also implies a progress in our capacity to define the meaning of those tasks and in our ability to tell ourselves whether we have succeeded or not. It therefore follows that even if there are no noticeable changes in human capabilities, the pace of technological change might alter our perceptions of how to do tasks and our mental pictures of what success means. Similarly, the redefinition of work also affects the way in which people conceive of their own capabilities and their limitations, leading to conflict and misunderstanding.

There are three broad categories of work that have been influential in defining the ways in which humans have defined and perform work. These categories are: tasks with loosely defined parameters, tightly defined tasks, and open-ended or complex tasks. The first two categories, loosely defined tasks, refer to activities that require little interaction between the person who performs the task and others, such as office tasks. The latter category, open-ended or complex tasks, refers to those tasks that involve interaction among the performer and other people involved in the task, such as brainstorming.

Work has been viewed as a series of routines, each routine having an underlying, independent definition. Work has been seen as having two major elements: the human capabilities it enables and the resources required to enable that capability. The human capabilities are also known as the outputs of a particular activity. These may include the product of a person’s effort and the value added value of his or her effort to others. The resources required to enable a particular capability may be financial, technical, and/or emotional. Thus work is defined as the arrangement of these human capabilities and the resources required to support them in performing a particular task.

In redefining work, the notion of value creation is important because it ties in with the definition of work. Value creation is the value that comes out of a person’s action or achievement of a particular capacity. It thus includes not only the satisfaction of a basic need but also an attempt at creating a surplus beyond what is needed to satisfy that basic need.

Value creation therefore takes on special importance in redefining work because it enables us to better understand and plan for the value that we create as a result of our actions and our acquired human capabilities. It therefore enables us to see how the world benefits from the value we contribute to it. A good digital twin engineer will therefore be both a highly skilled technician and a creative thinker with an eye for problem solving. Together they will help solve complex problems by discovering innovative solutions.