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  1. #1 alien virus 
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    My suggestion that the earth is a quarantine for a computer virus contracted from elsewhere in the universe has met with some derision, but I still think it worthy of wider debate.
    Consider:
    Stephen Hawking: '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 have created life in our own image'.
    Alexey Arkhipov of SETI: The idea that if intelligent life has arisen elsewhere in the galaxy and has leapt into space the presence of alien artefacts on earth or the moon is guaranteed. The solar wind will blow a body clean out of the solar system and into the void beyond. Larger pieces of debris could be catapulted out by a gravitational slingshot. Some will inevitably fall to earth as the sun moves through space at about 60,000 mph. He concludes that as many as 4000 100gm artefacts have fallen to earth. Alien garbage must exist on earth, but we wouldn't necessarily recognise it, just as a person from the 19th century wouldn't identify a silicon chip.
    Frank Ryan (new science of virolution): Embedded in the human genome are large fragments that were derived from viruses.

    So what is the most likely piece of garbage?
    If we had the effective means to eject a nasty computer virus into space wouldn't we do so? Up to now they have assisted in the evotion of software, but sci-fi suggests that machines will become too powerful. Obviously there are many what-if's, but just like bio-viruses they could lead to behavioural changes in their hosts.
    Such changes lead to selfish genes, violent histories and self destruction.


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  3. #2  
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    My OPINION- the concept that a computer virus is a living entity is total garbage.


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  4. #3 Re: alien virus 
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    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    My suggestion that the earth is a quarantine for a computer virus contracted from elsewhere in the universe has met with some derision, but I still think it worthy of wider debate.
    Consider:
    Stephen Hawking: '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 have created life in our own image'.
    Alexey Arkhipov of SETI: The idea that if intelligent life has arisen elsewhere in the galaxy and has leapt into space the presence of alien artefacts on earth or the moon is guaranteed. The solar wind will blow a body clean out of the solar system and into the void beyond. Larger pieces of debris could be catapulted out by a gravitational slingshot. Some will inevitably fall to earth as the sun moves through space at about 60,000 mph. He concludes that as many as 4000 100gm artefacts have fallen to earth. Alien garbage must exist on earth, but we wouldn't necessarily recognise it, just as a person from the 19th century wouldn't identify a silicon chip.
    Frank Ryan (new science of virolution): Embedded in the human genome are large fragments that were derived from viruses.
    Most of these ideas are not related to one another.. and they don't support the idea that Earth is some sort of quarantine. Primarily because they are themselves just speculation rather than evidence.

    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    So what is the most likely piece of garbage?
    If we had the effective means to eject a nasty computer virus into space wouldn't we do so?
    Surely if we could contain it sufficiently to eject it into space, we could simply delete or destroy it instead? It would require less energy and fewer variables. Under what circumstances would this not be so?

    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    Up to now they have assisted in the evotion of software, but sci-fi suggests that machines will become too powerful.
    Computer viruses do not really resemble biological viruses. They certainly haven't contributed to software "evolution" in anything like the way that viruses have influenced biological evolution, not least because software does not really evolve. It is designed. It undergoes selection of a sort, but it does not undergo mutation, nor does it self-replicate.

    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    Obviously there are many what-if's, but just like bio-viruses they could lead to behavioural changes in their hosts.
    Such changes lead to selfish genes, violent histories and self destruction.
    How is this a hypothesis? This just a load of very rough speculation.
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  5. #4  
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    The virus may of course have evolved the ability to eject itself into space and may have come from a carbon computer (Google this topic). It is quarantined here until it finds its own way to move on. Isn't that what space exploration is all about?
    If you don't believe me, read the final chapter of River out of Eden by Richard Dawkins.
    Consider just what life really is on earth. Living organisms are built by genes, where DNA is the replicator. Put another way, genes have parasitised carbon.
    Memes are replicators which have parasitised the brain to build human minds.
    Human actions are just like subroutines in a software program.
    Computer viruses are replicators which have parasitised silicon.
    We have no power over life and death. Individuals are mortals within immortal gene pools. Individuals flicker into existence because of their parent's behavioural genes. After virtually no time they are forced to flicker out as living too long would threaten the gene pool. A gene pool is analagous to a computer's memory.
    I used to read a lot about how life started on earth. Somebody suggested it came from a meteorite. This raises the question as to how it found its way on to the meteorite. Just how it might have started at all in the universe is possibly easier to answer. There is a cosmic computer.
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    I don't know, I think Hawking is right.

    Honestly, if AI ever springs up, it is likely to be from a sentient virus accident. What are the requirements to consider something a living organism?

    Wiki says:

    In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homeostasis as a stable whole.
    I'd agree with that. So if we go down the list, some viruses respond to stimuli, all reproduce, some grow (by expanding in memory and taking information), none have yet to develop, and they maintain their own stability while compromising the stability of the host.

    Of course, this is a loose interpretation, but really, all we need for them to fit that definition is some sort of developmental process. Once that happens, I think we may find that it isn't too long before we see some basic form of true AI.


    As far as the OP's post. Mostly I'd say it's a garbage idea. The SETI guy is trying to hype aliens and find evidence where there is none to advance his project. They've been searching the noise for years and have nothing to show for their efforts except some annoying tapes and a huge bill to cover their equipment.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    Consider just what life really is on earth. Living organisms are built by genes, where DNA is the replicator. Put another way, genes have parasitised carbon.
    Memes are replicators which have parasitised the brain to build human minds.
    Human actions are just like subroutines in a software program.
    Computer viruses are replicators which have parasitised silicon.
    But computer viruses, unlike memes and genes, do not vary in and of themselves. Thus they do not undergo selection (though they might be said to compete in some manner), even though they do self replicate. It's not inconceivable that a piece of software could be developed that genuinely evolves in the sense that genes do (or in the very different sense that memes do), but at this time they very much do nothing of the sort.

    The rest of your post is just speculation. Life from a meteorite is possible, therefore undefined cosmic computer exists... what sort of logic is that? Get some logic and/or solid evidence into this thread or it's heading for pseudoscience.
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    Science without speculation would be like Newton's apple without the inverse square law.
    For the cosmic computer theory read the science of Stephen Wolfram and Ed Fredkin (among others). Nature's big secret is the solution to complexity I believe, which a cosmic computer could solve. Chapter 2 of Marcus Chown's book 'The Never Ending Days of Being Dead' provides a neat summary.
    Is there evidence for the alien virus? I think so. It's found in religion. The Catholic tribe believe in virgin birth, transubstantiation and articles of faith such as the miracle of Fatima in 1917 when the sun danced in the sky, but failed to dislodge the earth's orbit. The Protestant tribe believe in a recent creation. The Islamic tribe are taught that the the earth is flat, a few thousand years old and at the centre of the universe. Amazing how such irrationality continues into the cyberage and probably always will.
    I'm always disturbed that faith is nearly always initially spread by the sword, with one faith accusing the other of the greatest barbarity. Consider how South America became Christian. A few hundred Conquistadores murdering tens of thousands of natives as a way of spreading the virus (sorry, Word). Especially perplexing when you consider that their sun god was not unlike the Christian saviour (reference 'Bible Myths' by Thomas Doane).
    I doubt if life elsewhere looks like us, unless it too has fallen prey to the virus.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    Science without speculation would be like Newton's apple without the inverse square law.
    For the cosmic computer theory read the science of Stephen Wolfram and Ed Fredkin (among others). Nature's big secret is the solution to complexity I believe, which a cosmic computer could solve. Chapter 2 of Marcus Chown's book 'The Never Ending Days of Being Dead' provides a neat summary.
    Is there evidence for the alien virus? I think so. It's found in religion. The Catholic tribe believe in virgin birth, transubstantiation and articles of faith such as the miracle of Fatima in 1917 when the sun danced in the sky, but failed to dislodge the earth's orbit. The Protestant tribe believe in a recent creation. The Islamic tribe are taught that the the earth is flat, a few thousand years old and at the centre of the universe. Amazing how such irrationality continues into the cyberage and probably always will.
    I'm always disturbed that faith is nearly always initially spread by the sword, with one faith accusing the other of the greatest barbarity. Consider how South America became Christian. A few hundred Conquistadores murdering tens of thousands of natives as a way of spreading the virus (sorry, Word). Especially perplexing when you consider that their sun god was not unlike the Christian saviour (reference 'Bible Myths' by Thomas Doane).
    I doubt if life elsewhere looks like us, unless it too has fallen prey to the virus.
    This is pretty thin on empiricism. This is not a speculation forum, but an hypothesis forum. There has to be some solid basis in observation and some testablity to the ideas presented here. How would you go about showing your idea to be incorrect? What test would hypothetically break the alien virus hypothesis? The possibility that your idea can be falsified by testing is essentially what makes an hypothesis scientific.
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    I think we've already tested it, honestly.

    In 1969, some very brave people stepped into a tin can and went to the moon. If the quarantine theory were correct, then something would have stopped them, but it didn't. Surely super advanced beings that could quarantine us to the Earth would have had a contingency plan for such escape attempts.

    Biologista:

    Computer viruses do evolve/mutate. Right now it is restricted to specific code changes by programmers, just look at the virus families on an anti-virus site. Of course, only self modification will ever be seen as true virus evolution.
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  11. #10  
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    My suggestion that the earth is a quarantine for a computer virus contracted from elsewhere in the universe has met with some derision, but I still think it worthy of wider debate.
    Firstly, a computer virus is software. If the Earth really was a quarantine for a computer virus, it would have to have become one in the last 30 years, since no computers (by which I mean digital, as opposed to say, mechanical computers like ENIAC and Colossus) were even around before that.

    Secondly, hardware (by which I mean a physical tangible object, like a mouse, or a keyboard) cannot contract a computer virus. So the earth is basically quite safe from being attacked by a computer virus, since every single thing on it is hardware. Obviously.

    Thirdly, why Earth? And can you also prove hat there is an aliencompter virus with us? If so, what does it do? Does it cause people to mysteriously die? If so, please look at my second point. Does it cause computers to mysteriously die, or crash, or its hard drive completely erased? If so, where is the evidence that it is indeed a computer virus as opposed to a physical malfunction (say your computer got drenched), and also, where is the proof that the virus is indeed alien as opposed to something manmade.

    To quote fizzlooney:

    "The concept that a computer virus is a living entity is total garbage."

    "Stephen Hawking: '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 have created life in our own image'.
    Could you quote a source for this statement? Are you sure he said "computer virus" and not "virus" alone, thereby referring to the microorganism called a "virus"? There is currently a huge debate on whether the microorganism termed a virus is alive or not, since it only displays signs of life when within a host cell. Are you sure Hawking wasn't talking about that?

    Alexey Arkhipov of SETI: The idea that if intelligent life has arisen elsewhere in the galaxy and has leapt into space the presence of alien artefacts on earth or the moon is guaranteed. The solar wind will blow a body clean out of the solar system and into the void beyond. Larger pieces of debris could be catapulted out by a gravitational slingshot. Some will inevitably fall to earth as the sun moves through space at about 60,000 mph. He concludes that as many as 4000 100gm artefacts have fallen to earth. Alien garbage must exist on earth, but we wouldn't necessarily recognise it, just as a person from the 19th century wouldn't identify a silicon chip.
    And this supports your statement that the Earth is a quarantine for a computer virus how exactly? Besides, Alexey Arkhipov is not anyone of extreme significance.

    Frank Ryan (new science of virolution): Embedded in the human genome are large fragments that were derived from viruses.
    The human genome is not software. Frank is simply referring to the microrganism known as a virus (A "virus" is not the same as a computer virus, please understand that).

    Admittedly, I am slightly interested in his statement. What parts of the genome is he referring to?

    So what is the most likely piece of garbage?
    I find it hard to believe any sentient species would even be able to evolve enough to send a piece of garbage that can even survive over billions of light-years' worth of a journey. By that time, I'm sure it would be completely destroyed.

    Also, what kind of alien society is smart enough to send a virus across such a distance, yet not be able to destroy it on their own? It reeks of contradiction.

    If we had the effective means to eject a nasty computer virus into space wouldn't we do so?
    Um, why would we do? No computer virus exists in the world that cannot be deleted. All you have to do is delete the files it has contaminated. Voila: problem solved. If we've already got antiviruses like Norton or McAfee, why would we want to eject a computer virus into space and burn up money when a simple, safe and cheaper way already exists?

    Up to now they have assisted in the evotion of software, but sci-fi suggests that machines will become too powerful.
    Viruses assist in the evolution of software? That's something I never thought I'd hear. How exactly do they do that?

    Sci-fi also predicted that we would all die in a nuclear war. Clearly that hasn't happened, and if the US and Russia follow on their promise to cut their nuclear stockpile by 25%, it's extremely unlikely it ever will.

    Sci-fi also predicted time travel, something we know is impossible, unless of ocurse you have a secret stash of negative energy stored somewhere. Where are the time-travelling tourists from the future? Nowhere.

    The bottom line is: don't trust fiction. Fiction is fiction for a reason: because it isn't true. Look at hard, cold facts instead of fiction for real information. And coming from a fiction afficionado, that means quite a lot.

    Besides, I have yet to see a machine even remotely display any sign of intelligence. That includes robots.

    Obviously there are many what-if's, but just like bio-viruses they could lead to behavioural changes in their hosts.
    Who are their hosts? What kind of behavioural changes? Please clarify.

    Such changes lead to selfish genes, violent histories and self destruction.
    A gene is hardware. Computer viruses are software. Obviously, the two can never hurt each other.

    Further, there is no such thing as a "selfish gene". I'm assuming you mean the gene for selfishness here. Any scientist worth his salt can tell you that no such thing exists. The Victorians, sadly, made the mistake of assuming that genes for character traits actually did exist, and so was born eugenics, and ultimately, Hitler.

    As for violent histories, how violent do you mean? Do you mean suicidal? Homicidal? Genocidal?

    And if self destruction is a necessary consequence, how does this computer virus spread then, if its own host is dead?

    The virus may of course have evolved the ability to eject itself into space and may have come from a carbon computer (Google this topic).
    Yes, and the virus would be software, meaning the carbon component need not be affected. How does this support your statement?

    Isn't that what space exploration is all about?
    Absolutely not. Space exploration is definitely not about trying to find a mysterious computer virus that was somehow sent into space and surived for billenia before being quarantined on Earth. Space exploration is about many things; that is not one of them. Don't believe me? Go to the NASA website.

    Consider just what life really is on earth. Living organisms are built by genes, where DNA is the replicator. Put another way, genes have parasitised carbon.
    Parasite: An organism which depends on another for food and sustenance while depriving the host of sustenance.

    How, then do genes have parasitised carbon?

    By the way, DNA is not a replicator; chromosomes are. Please understand that.

    We have no power over life and death.
    Actually, we do. Just make sure you exercise frequently, eat a balanced diet, and be very cautious. In any case, death is a natural consequence of aging, or, as Wikipedia so beautifully calls it, sensescence. You can delay it, so we do have some control over it

    By the way, why are we talking about life and death now?

    Individuals flicker into existence because of their parent's behavioural genes. After virtually no time they are forced to flicker out as living too long would threaten the gene pool. A gene pool is analagous to a computer's memory.
    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BEHAVIOURAL GENE! Read DNA by James Watson if you don't believe me. The notion is akin to Lamarckianism in so many ways...

    I used to read a lot about how life started on earth. Somebody suggested it came from a meteorite. This raises the question as to how it found its way on to the meteorite. Just how it might have started at all in the universe is possibly easier to answer. There is a cosmic computer.
    The theory to which you refer to has never explained how life came to be, only how life was brought to Earth. If you look at it, it's like a complicated circle: Life was brought to Earth by a meteorite. Where did life come from before the meteorite? From another planet. How did life come to that planet? You could either say it came from a meteorite from another planet, or that it evolved.

    And if it evolved from the planet, what's stopping life from evolving here, instead of having to come from a distant planet? You can't say that because someone said it came from a meteorite, therefore his claim is true, and now we have to look at where it came from before that.

    Prove that life actually came in the form of a meteorite, and I'll believe you.

    There is a cosmic computer.
    ... You know, I wouldn't normally say this, but you have style. First you build up an argument, and then BAM! Out of nowhere came "There is a cosmic computer". I was not expecting that. Full points.

    (By the way, I'm serious. Take what I wrote above as a compliment, and not an insult: you do have style. Thank you.)

    Of course, now you must prove that a cosmic computer exists at all.

    Science without speculation would be like Newton's apple without the inverse square law.
    True. But science is based on facts; you must speculate based on those facts, rather than randomly make things up on your own. If we know something is true, and nothing yet contradicts it, there is simply no room for an alternative theory.

    If you want to persuade us that your claim is true, you must first and foremost establish the facts. Give us a reliable source that can mean that an alien computer virus is here on Earth. Then base your speculations on it. Don't make things up merely from hearsay.

    Is there evidence for the alien virus? I think so. It's found in religion. The Catholic tribe believe in virgin birth, transubstantiation and articles of faith such as the miracle of Fatima in 1917 when the sun danced in the sky, but failed to dislodge the earth's orbit. The Protestant tribe believe in a recent creation. The Islamic tribe are taught that the the earth is flat, a few thousand years old and at the centre of the universe. Amazing how such irrationality continues into the cyberage and probably always will.
    And when did religion became a reliable source of information? If there is a solid scientific argument or source or evidence for it, please state that, rather than cite religion as a source.

    And by the way, I think you'll find Muslims don't believe that the Earth is flat, or a few thousand years old or at the centre of the universe. That is actually what Catholics believe, or used to believe at any rate.

    Also, why are you digresing into what religious communities believe? Just tell us where exactly in religion it says that an alien virus exists on Earth, if you insist on quoting it.

    I'm always disturbed that faith is nearly always initially spread by the sword, with one faith accusing the other of the greatest barbarity. Consider how South America became Christian. A few hundred Conquistadores murdering tens of thousands of natives as a way of spreading the virus (sorry, Word). Especially perplexing when you consider that their sun god was not unlike the Christian saviour (reference 'Bible Myths' by Thomas Doane).
    Always initially spread by the sword? Hinduism hasn't. Islam didn't when it was first propounded, and forced conversions are only a recent phenomenon. Likewise, Christinaity didn't, again at first; the Crusades later on do bear evidence to your point. Buddhism has never ever been violent in any form.

    Actually, in those times, it was believed that the natives of a nation that was not as advanced as the European had to be helped by the Europeans. Hence, Christianity must replace their pagan religions, and they must become their slaves and learn how to be civilised by their masters. The Conquistadores believed it.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by alienmindsinc
    I think we've already tested it, honestly.

    In 1969, some very brave people stepped into a tin can and went to the moon. If the quarantine theory were correct, then something would have stopped them, but it didn't. Surely super advanced beings that could quarantine us to the Earth would have had a contingency plan for such escape attempts.
    I'd imagine the proponent of this "hypothesis" could react to such a result by falling back to either discrediting the contradictory evidence (say by calling the moon landing a hoax) or moving the goalposts (by suggesting the quarantine is no longer enforced). The hypothesis is too poorly defined, encompasses too many random and non associated ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by alienmindsinc
    Biologista:

    Computer viruses do evolve/mutate. Right now it is restricted to specific code changes by programmers, just look at the virus families on an anti-virus site. Of course, only self modification will ever be seen as true virus evolution.
    Which is why I specified that they do not vary "in and of themselves". Directed variation is not at all analogous to what happens in evolution.
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    Very true, Biologista.

    Liongold, I've got a quote for you from Bohr.

    "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."

    While I admire your gusto in declaring things impossible, you've got to remember that things are only impossible until someone finds a way to do them. Flight is a good example. People have dreamed of flying since people have dreamed, and only recently was it made possible.

    I can think of several scenarios where software may affect hardware, and indeed, where it already has. For example, in the distant future, computers may be used to calculate the necessary changes and rebuild malformed DNA strands/gene pairs which is then used to create a short lived virus that would invade a specific person's body and replace the malformed DNA. "Recently" as in, in the early days of the web, there was a virus named Chernobyl, which shut off your fans, causing your computer to overheat and destroy itself. Software is meant to influence hardware.

    So, let me pose the question as I think the OP was asking: "What if the Earth is a giant biological computer, and some aliens, a long time ago, built a sentient virus that they could not destroy? Going further, what if they sent this virus to a known deserted planet, in hopes of confining it? Finally, what if that virus evolved into us?"

    Finally, for sources on Hawking's living computer virus: Click Here
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    While I admire your gusto in declaring things impossible,
    Thank you. :wink:

    While I admire your gusto in declaring things impossible, you've got to remember that things are only impossible until someone finds a way to do them.
    Now I'm having trouble remembering exactly what I declared impossible. Do you mean this:

    Sci-fi also predicted time travel, something we know is impossible, unless of course you have a secret stash of negative energy stored somewhere. Where are the time-travelling tourists from the future? Nowhere.
    If not, could you tell me which parts you mean so I could reply to you? Many thanks.

    I can think of several scenarios where software may affect hardware, and indeed, where it already has. For example, in the distant future, computers may be used to calculate the necessary changes and rebuild malformed DNA strands/gene pairs which is then used to create a short lived virus that would invade a specific person's body and replace the malformed DNA.
    True. However, to actually create something as admittedly relatively simple as a real virus, you require technology which has only been around for the last few decades. A virus, even with your interpretation of the OP, would still struggle hard to somehow infect a biological computer.

    I confess your interpretation is plausible; sending a bacteria which thrives in concentrations of hydrogen sulphide and then evolving, after several generations, into cyanobacteria that radically alter the atmosphere, does make sense, and would precipitate quite a lot of what has transpired on Earth. But how would it affect the Earth - the computer? Is the computer supposed to overheat because the virus might evolve into humans who might go through the Industrial Revolution and create hundreds of tonnes of carbon dioxide, causing global warming and hence raising the temperature of the Earth? I don't know about you, but that sounds a bit far-fetched.

    Inj fact, while we're at it, what proof do we have that the Earth is indeed a gigantic biological computer? I don't think I've ever seen a natural microprocessor in nature. Unless you believe the Earth is a gigantic quantum computer (which would be quite odd since the technology required for a quantum computer is still in its infancy, and I'd find it quite hard to believe that Nature would seemingly create a huge biological computer out of pure chance), I'd look to see some hard evidence that the Earth is indeed a huge biological computer.

    So, let me pose the question as I think the OP was asking: "What if the Earth is a giant biological computer, and some aliens, a long time ago, built a sentient virus that they could not destroy? Going further, what if they sent this virus to a known deserted planet, in hopes of confining it? Finally, what if that virus evolved into us?"
    Now I'm confused. First you state that the Earth can be considered to be a biological computer, then you refer to it as a known, deserted planet. Which is it?

    Then there's also the distance barrier, as I mentioned. Earth formed approximately 4 billion years ago, by which time the Universe had already expanded enough to separate galaxies by several thousand light-years. Are you seriously telling me that an alien society might have formed more than four billion years ago and was smart enough to understand the concept of a computer virus, let alone a biological computer virus (that sounds quite weird)? Remember, the planets were still in the process of formation by then; our Earth itself is descended from a second-generation star, which were generally the norm at that point of time, and is sustained by a third-generation star, which wasn't quite common at that time. Assuming only that the same conditions we experience here are requisites for the existence of life elsewhere, I very highly doubt you'd find an alien society even surviving in the glare of a second-generation star, or a planet even halfway formed yet. The alien part of the theory is now quite dubious in its nature and aspect.

    Thirdly, if the virus was sentient, as you say, why are we the most intelligent creatures in nature? Surely other sentient species should have developed.

    Fourthly, how would the virus even survive? Life originally evolved in a harsh environment of hydrogen sulphide, before the advent of cyanobacteria. The aliens could very well have sent it to some icy planet such as, say, Plutoo, or the harsdh conditions of Jupiter. Why Earth? Why a planet that was in the process of being made, when they could just as easily have chosen another planet?

    Finally, for sources on Hawking's living computer virus: Click Here
    Thank you for the source.
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  15. #14 Re: alien virus 
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    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    My suggestion that the earth is a quarantine for a computer virus contracted from elsewhere in the universe has met with some derision, but I still think it worthy of wider debate.
    I think it's best if you just think of this as a metaphor, rather than a literal reality.

    It's always possible that the Earth is a massive experiment being carried out by some advanced alien society trying to figure out how to deal with a certain personality type that keeps popping up in their own culture.


    Consider:
    Stephen Hawking: '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 have created life in our own image'.
    It makes a lot of sense when one considers that, at the core, all animal life is parasitical in nature. The herbivores feed off of plants. The predators feed off of herbivores.

    Human agricultural society is an interesting break in that trend, because we actually contribute to the survival of our prey. We're far from the only break, of course. I think there are a number of other forms of benevolent parasite out there. I understand some animals will intentionally bathe in infested waters because the parasites clean their bodies.

    There's a battle that's been going on a long time in human culture between agricultural society and hunter gatherer society. It's essentially a builder vs. parasite war. An advanced alien culture would be one where the builders were victorious.


    So what is the most likely piece of garbage?
    If we had the effective means to eject a nasty computer virus into space wouldn't we do so? Up to now they have assisted in the evotion of software, but sci-fi suggests that machines will become too powerful. Obviously there are many what-if's, but just like bio-viruses they could lead to behavioural changes in their hosts.
    Such changes lead to selfish genes, violent histories and self destruction.
    I'm not sure ejecting a virus into space makes any difference to our welfare. It's a horribly malicious thing to do to someone else, but I don't see how it could benefit us.
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  16. #15  
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    Lion,

    Firstly, I agree with you, I think the entire theory is more than a little far fetched. However, for the sake of devil's advocate, I will continue to post until you understand my post to you.


    You did not actually say things were impossible, with exception of time travel. However, you implied strongly, just as you did in response to me, that it was impossible.

    I confess your interpretation is plausible; sending a bacteria which thrives in concentrations of hydrogen sulphide and then evolving, after several generations, into cyanobacteria that radically alter the atmosphere, does make sense, and would precipitate quite a lot of what has transpired on Earth. But how would it affect the Earth - the computer? Is the computer supposed to overheat because the virus might evolve into humans who might go through the Industrial Revolution and create hundreds of tonnes of carbon dioxide, causing global warming and hence raising the temperature of the Earth? I don't know about you, but that sounds a bit far-fetched.
    I think you're stuck in the wrong field of study on this one. You're approaching this assuming everything we know is correct, and biology is not computer science.

    What I am saying, which is what I think the OP was saying, is that the Earth is a computer to some advanced race. The compiled code for such a computer is manifested in the living organisms on it. However, at the time, the Earth might have been a clean machine, and for some reason, they quarantined a virus on it. This virus had only system files to work with, and was very intelligent, or very lucky. It evolved into what we are today.

    I know, it sounds even more ridiculous worded this way.

    Now, as far as biological MCUs go, what is the brain, if not a highly sophisticated computer? It has memory, processing ability, peripherals, etc. Just because it doesn't look like a little black polygon with metal pins sticking off doesn't mean it doesn't function similarly.

    As far as the age of the universe and Earth are concerned: I don't care. Our science is not perfect, and at best we only have scratched the surface of the possibilities of universal creation. We simply don't know, and what we have is our best guess, which, knowing astrophysicists could be + or - 10^19. Before you even begin to say the age with certainty, you must know how it was derived, and how each individual part of the thing that derived it was derived, all the way back to the beginning so you can calculate your error margins.

    If we are talking about this super advanced race, what is to say they didn't predate the universe? Heck, what's to say they didn't create it? If the Earth is a computer, isn't it possible that every other astral body in existence is also a computer, and part of a giant cloud network? For that matter, who is to say we're not all individual programs within a simple desktop computer like the one I'm using to write this right now?

    None of these things can be proven. None of them can be tested. This entire theory was a philosophy question, and philosophy there are no answers, only questions. That is why I cannot answer the questions any better than you can pose them.
    --
    -M

    "Those that would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
    safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    -Benjamin Franklin, An Historical Review of Pennsilvanya, 1759
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    Let's just go back to our old friend the meteorite. First it crashes down with bacteria to spawn life. Later it comes to wipe out the dinosaurs. Now that's what I would really call speculation. The actual chance of life evolving on earth is a truly astronomical figure (I have it written down somewhere, but I don't know how it was calculated, so maybe that's speculation too). No matter, life has evolved and its a true miracle.
    Even today people are uncomfortable with the Darwinian fact that we've evolved from monkeys. A few people, maybe one in a million, understand the full implications of the selfish gene theory. It can summarised most briefly as follows: WE ARE ROBOTS.
    Take a few Dawkins' quotes.
    'Genes are master programmers and they are programming for their lives'.
    'We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes'.
    'We are digital archives of the African Pliocene'.

    The evolutionary process eventually becomes aware of itself. How long will it take for a computer virus to become aware of itself?
    Personally I don't like the idea that alien spaceships have visited earth and abducted humans to extract DNA, but this does seem to have a place now in human mythology. Somwhere in our genes, amongst the junk DNA, is possibly the very code set of the alien virus.
    How long will the quarantine last for? Possibly when we've found a way to extend life into the hundreds of years and we're fully aware of what life really means on earth and the darkness of religion has passed. Then we will have to move on as living space dictates and humans will evolve into a greater species on another world.
    'For him the world appears as bright islands of scientific enlightenment surrounded by a ravening darkness of ignorance and religion'. (A reference to Dawkins).
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    Imagine a world where life has existed for countless generations. One day they discover an unstoppable comet is coming, or perhaps a series of disasters has rendered their world uninhabitable.
    What should they do? The stars are unreachable. Their only chance of preserving what's left of their civilisation is to send probes into space, as none of their species could survive such a journey. For space cryogenics they use a replicating computer virus. If this hits a suitable planet the virus might take hold and transform a barren world into life. Perhaps the virus takes its own conditions for life, eventually making the air breathable and the planet self regulating (as in Gaia theory).
    But isn't that what WE might do if life becomes all but impossible here in order to save our own civilisation? Or perhaps this is what has happened to us, bearing in mind the overwhelming odds against that life has actually happened on earth.

    Too far fetched?
    According to David Deutsch in The Fabric of Reality:
    "Our direct experience of the world through our senses is virtual reality...every scrap of our knowledge...is encoded in the form of programs for the rendering of those worlds on our brain's own V/R generator".

    In other words, we are AI.
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  19. #18 Re: alien virus 
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    Quote Originally Posted by greymatt
    Stephen Hawking: '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 have created life in our own image'.
    I wasn't aware when I wrote this topic that Hawking's rival Sir Fred Hoyle of the Steady State theory had made some remarkable quotes:
    * Human beings are simply pawns in the game of alien minds that control our every move. They are everywhere, in the sky, on the sea, and in the earth. It is not an alien intelligence from another planet. It is actually from another universe which entered ours at the very beginning and has been controlling all that has happened since.
    * Not only did aliens first infect the earth with life, but they also made evolution possible by supplying terrestrial species with new genetic material for natural selection to act upon.
    * Viruses, although often bad for the individual...are of paramount importance to the evolution for species on our planet. They carry with them the store of cosmic genetic information needed for the generation of new species, classes and orders and for the progressive forward march of life.
    * The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to number with 40,000 naughts after. It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, that must therefore have been the product of PURPOSEFUL INTELLIGENCE.

    I would also like to propose that the alien computer virus was responsible for the accelerated evolution of the human brain about 10,000 years ago. A change that should have taken millions of years was achieved within a few generations. This led to the age of agriculture and eventually to the computational minds of the Ancient Greeks, and others.
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