Both computer and biological viruses, they explain in their paper, can be defined as “information that codes for parasitic behavior.” In biology, a virus’s code is written in DNA or RNA and is much smaller than the code making up a computer virus. The DNA of a flu virus, for example, could be described with about 23,000 bits, whereas the average computer virus would fall in a range 10 to 100 times bigger.
The origins of each virus are strikingly different: A computer virus is designed, whereas a biological virus evolves under pressure from natural selection. But what would happen if these origins are switched? Could hackers code for a super-virus, or a computer virus emerge out of the information “wilderness” and evolve over time?