And God saw that it was good.
And God blessed them, saying "Be fruitful and multiply"
From the start I want to stress that I do not advocate
anyone’s going out and infecting an innocent party’s computer
system with a malicious virus designed to destroy valuable data or
bring their system to a halt. That is not only wrong, it is illegal. If
you do that, you could wind up in jail or find yourself being sued
However this does not mean that it is illegal to create
a computer virus and experiment with it, even though I know some
people wish it was.
If you do create a virus, though, be careful with
it. Make sure you know it is working properly or you may wipe out
your own system by accident. And make sure you don’t inadvertently
release it into the world, or you may find yourself in a legal
jam . . . even if it was just an accident. Someone who loses a year’s
worth of work may not be so convinced that it was an accident. And
soon it may be illegal to infect a computer system (even your own)
with a benign virus which does no harm at all. The key word here
is responsibility. Be responsible. If you do something destructive,
be prepared to take responsibility. Many people think of viruses as sort of a
black art but actually is not. Many years ago, "primitive people" were killing any
who was crazy because they couldn't understand what was wrong with
them. Fear made them killers and destroyer of life. Being afraid of something that
you don't really understand what it does and how it does it is not the solution.
When you don't understand something you have questions, these question must be
anwsered by those who has the knowledge. Nowadays, this kind of information relies in
many books and definitely is available free on the Internet.
We all should understand that computer viruses are functionally similar to
living organisms. Biology can teach us a lot about them, both how they behave
and how to make them better. However computer viruses also have the potential to
teach us something about living organisms. We can create and control computer
viruses in a way that we cannot yet control living organisms.
Learning how to write a virus may not make you more employable, or give you
new techniques to incorporate into programs. So why waste time with them,
unless you need them to sow chaos among your enemies?
Let me try to answer that: Ever since computers were invented in the 1940’s,
there has been a brotherhood of people dedicated to exploring the limitless
possibilities of these magnificent machines. This brotherhood has included famous
mathematicians and scientists, as well as thousands of unnamed
hobbyists who built their own computers, and programmers who love to dig into
the heart of their machines. As long as computers have been around, men have
dreamed of intelligent machines which would reason, and act without being told
step by step just what to do. For many years this was purely science fiction.
However, the very thought of this possibility drove some to attempt to make it a
reality. Thus “Artificial Intelligence” was born. Yet AI applications
are often driven by commercial interests, and tend to be colored by
that fact. Typical results are knowledge bases and the like—useful,
sometimes exciting, but also geared toward putting the machine to
use in a specific way, rather than to exploring it on its own terms.
The computer virus is a radical new approach to this idea
of “living machines.” Rather than trying to design something which
poorly mimics highly complex human behavior, one starts by trying
to copy the simplest of living organisms. Simple one-celled organisms
don’t do very much. The most primitive organisms draw
nutrients from the sea in the form of inorganic chemicals, and take
energy from the sun, and their only goal is apparently to survive
and to reproduce. They aren’t very intelligent, and it would be tough
to argue about their metaphysical aspects like “soul.” Yet they do
what they were programmed to do, and they do it very effectively.
If we were to try to mimic such organisms by building a machine—
a little robot—which went around collecting raw materials and
putting them together to make another little robot, we would have
a very difficult task on our hands. On the other hand, think of a
whole new universe—not this physical world, but an electronic one,
which exists inside of a computer. Here is the virus’ world. Here it
can “live” in a sense not too different from that of primitive
biological life. The computer virus has the same goal as a living
organism—to survive and to reproduce. It has environmental obstacles
to overcome, which could “kill” it and render it inoperative.
And once it is released, it seems to have a mind of its own. It runs
off in its electronic world doing what it was programmed to do. In
this sense it is very much alive.
There is no doubt that the beginning of life was an important
milestone in the history of the earth. However, if one tries to
consider it from the viewpoint of inanimate matter, it is difficult to
imagine life as being much more than a nuisance. We usually
assume that life is good and that it deserves to be protected.
However, we must realize that computer viruses are not
inherently destructive. The essential feature of a computer program
that causes it to be classified as a virus is not its ability to destroy
data, but its ability to gain control of the computer and make a fully
functional copy of itself. It can reproduce. When it is executed, it
makes one or more copies of itself. Those copies may later be
executed, to create still more copies, ad infinitum. Not all computer
programs that are destructive are classified as viruses because they
do not all reproduce, and not all viruses are destructive because
reproduction is not destructive. However, all viruses do reproduce.
The idea that computer viruses are always destructive is deeply
ingrained in most people’s thinking though. The very term “virus”
is an inaccurate and emotionally charged epithet. The scientifically
correct term for a computer virus is “self-reproducing automaton,”
or “SRA” for short. This term describes correctly what such a
program does, rather than attaching emotional energy to it.
Leaving metaphysical questions like “soul” aside, a living organism
can be differentiated from non-life in that it appears to have
(a) to survive, and
(b) to reproduce.
Actually, a computer virus has the same two goals as a living organism: to survive and to
The simplest of living organisms depend only on the
inanimate, inorganic environment for what they need to achieve
their goals. They draw raw materials from their surroundings, and
use energy from the sun to synthesize whatever chemicals they need
to do the job. The organism is not dependent on another form of life
which it must somehow eat, or attack to continue its existence. In
the same way, a computer virus uses the computer system’s resources
like disk storage and CPU time to achieve its goals. Specifically,
it does not attack other self-reproducing automata and
“eat” them in a manner similar to a biological virus. Instead, the
computer virus is the simplest unit of life in this electronic world
inside the computer.
Computer viruses are admirable life forms inside a computer box. They are
looking for hosts as a real virus does and attach them self on it in
order to survive and reproduce. We should not be afraid of them but we
sould have the knowledge how to deal with them. Combination of
ignorance, inexperience and fear-provoking reports of danger is the
perfect formula for mass hysteria.