The launch and spread of the recent Saphire/Slammer worm, which infected 90% hosts in about ten minutes, has focused some attention on a new generation of viruses known as superworms. Curious Yellow is a (hopefully?) theoretical example of the class.
But theory turns into practice before you know it, and some bright, misguided person will actually build a worm that is so pervasive and changeable that it cannot be eradicated. That will be a watershed event in computing history, actually.
Lessons from biology indicate that this has happened before in genetic code. Some virii you fight, and some you learn to live with.
But there may be a better example to be found in the concept of memes: the genetic code of culture, the ideas that are traded from person to person and evolve through recombination with other memes in the human (animal?) brain. We have a symbiotic relationship with our memes: we play the host to them, allow them to grow and develop. In return, it is our culture, our best (and worst) practices that allow us to live and thrive within the biosphere.
We give them fish. They teach us to fish. you see how that is?
I propose that the most successful computer virii will be the ones that help, not harm, their hosts. I got interested in the IRC recently because I saw a creative use of what they call bots: programs which listen in one an IRC channel (the original chat room, compare to HAM radio even) and perform helpful functions for the operators.
Including making sure that "evil" bots, disruptive ones, get booted before they can cause trouble.
By Psydeshow on February 4, 2003 at 12:09pm