I find computer viruses endlessly fascinating. This is partly because as a smug, self-satisfied Mac user, I don’t see them very often. It’s also because my first cover story at Time was about the Love Bug, the 2000 megavirus that at the time seemed like the harbinger of the coming cyberapocalypse. (I still don’t see why, given the relative weakness of anti-virus software and the enduring ignorance of so many computer users, there hasn’t been a more severe outbreak, with more devastating consequences — there has never been, for example, a really seriously malicious and widespread virus that really goes after your hard drive and eats your data wholesale, though such a bug wouldn’t be that hard to write. Score one for the basic benevolence, or laziness, of script kiddies everywhere (are there still script kiddies?))
As far as I know The Love Bug remains one of the worst-selling Time covers of all time. But that didn’t stop me from getting excited all over again when I saw this (yeah, I read Slashdot): a virus that launches a DDos attack against the domains of its creators’ rivals. This feels to me like a sea change: virus-on-virus action. What I’m ready for is rival worms fighting each other directly, on mail servers or on my hard drive. The Net has been an Edenic petrie dish for viruses for too long — it’s time for some Darwinian selection! One pictures a whole eco-system of worm-on-worm violence, red in bit and byte, replicating and chewing each other to pieces and evolving. Maybe that’s the primordial tidepool out of which true machine sentience will finally emerge? The ghosts are gonna mix it tonight! (A No-prize to the commenter who can trace this quote — and, if I’m misquoting, correct it.)
At any rate, that should amuse us till they fire up the Large Hadron Collider this fall, and we all get eaten by black Saturns.