Food For Thought Here is

Food For Thought

Here is an interesting comparison of computer viruses and the defining qualities
of living organisms (The italicized text comes from the University of Illinois href=""
target="_blank">Biology 100/101

  • Life is organized. Viruses are created from comprehensible computer code. They are often computed as a process, which is comprised of sub-processes, which are comprised of simple, specific instructions for the processor.
  • Life requires energy. Viruses requires energy in the form of electricity, which powers their "host" of hard disks, processors, and memory. Without electricity, computer viruses could not exist.
  • Living things must maintain an internal constancy. By consuming electricity, viruses are able to maintain and preserve themselves within the computer.
  • Living things react to environmental change (an individual reacts to its environment). Viruses may become active on a certain date, or may be activated by any computing task, such as by a malicious hacker who left a back door into the computer, or by simply running a program.
  • Living things grow, develop, and reproduce. Viruses may cause memory leaks, essentially growing until it consumes all computer resources, or may duplicate itself on floppy disks or email attachments.
  • Living things adapt (evolutionary change over many generations). New viruses are constantly being created and introduced, and evolve in their method of distribution and type of payload, such as the infamous Melissa virus, which had incredible distribution abilities through email, yet caused minimal destruction.

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