Hawking says computer viruses are life forms

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by oldie, Dec 31, 2001.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. oldie Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    49
    British physicist Stephen Hawking says a computer virus fits the definition of a living system even though it has no metabolism of its own, and instead uses the metabolism of a host computer for its parasitic existence. "I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image," says Hawking. (St. Petersburg Times 8/8/94 p.8).

    He is referring to the way humans spread on our planet like viruses do.
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Rick Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,336
    Hi Oldie,
    Computer viruses are called viruses because they share some of the traits of biological viruses. A computer virus passes from computer to computer like a biological virus passes from person to person.
    At a deeper level there are similarities as well. A biological virus is not a living thing. A virus is a fragment of DNA inside a protective jacket. Unlike a cell, a virus has no way to do anything or to reproduce by itself -- it is not alive. Instead, a biological virus must inject its DNA into a cell. The viral DNA then uses the cell's existing machinery to reproduce itself. In some cases, the cell fills with new viral particles until it bursts, releasing the virus. In other cases the new virus particles bud off the cell one at a time and the cell remains alive.

    A computer virus shares some of these traits. A computer virus must piggyback on top of some other program or document in order to get executed. Once it is running, it is then able to infect other programs or documents. Obviously the analogy between computer and biological viruses stretches things a bit, but there are enough similarities that the name sticks.

    Essentially Viruses are nothing but Tsrs modified form,which get activated by certain interrupts.similariities yes do exist...

    bye!
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. kmguru Staff Member

    Messages:
    11,757
    The reason the virus spreads is because of sloppy programming of application software and the operating system. There is no mechanism for the user to setup the configuration of programs to lock out the unintended behaviour. For example, you can not set the property of the "delete" program such that mass delete is impossible or mass mailings are impossible. There is no hardware key that you can set for a specific task.

    We pay for sloppy code same way we pay for the results of continuous stress in human body.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    Bah!

    A cell, which most biologists consider to be alive, is alive only within an environmental context. For example, if you place a cell in water, it will be incapable of reproduction for lack of needed structural nutrients. Is that cell now somehow 'unalive' since it cannot reproduce?

    Pushing the idea further, I'll claim that humans are not alive since, strictly speaking, we are incapable of reproduction by ourselves (we need other living things for food and also for sex).

    For viruses, the environmental context happens to include some of ribosomes and structural components (RNAs, amino acids) which happen to be found inside "living" cells. In fact, the cell needn't be "alive" at all. Viral DNA can reproduce in an ideal environment containing only the necessary molecular components it needs.

    And so I'm suggesting that if anything at all is alive (with respect to this reproduction criteria you mention), then biological viruses are alive and thus so are computer viruses.
     
  8. Rick Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,336
    Reproduction is a factor,but it is not the factor.

    bye!
     
  9. Rick Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,336
    So Porf,

    What exactly you define as living?Any non-living concious and intelligent entity is living?

    bye!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  10. Another bad idea from Stephen Hawking. Are computer programs also alive?What about Visual Basic Script?

    Talk about dumb ideas.

    Tom
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page