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Computer genetic diversity

Monocultures are disease prone
 
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We are worm rassling here. I had 70+ messages in my box today, both apparently generated by the sobig worm and rejections of mail supposedly from me, but also from the sobig worm.

The problem is not that Windows is defective, but that it is a genetically impoverished monoculture. Many crop plants and animals are vulnerable to epidemic diseases for this same reason. American apple trees, for example, all descend from 1 or 2 trees, and thus there is very little genetic diversity. A pest which can infect one tree can probably infect them all, and the pest spreads like wildfire. Contributing to this problem is the practice of growing crops in large uniform tracts without other ecosystem elements. In natural ecosystems, at least there are non-host organisms which interact with or at least impede the progress of a pathogen.

The solution as regards crops is to find remaining individuals from the wild populations (eg apple trees in Kazakhstan) which have resistance to these pathogens. The Apple computers scattered here and there in networks may function the same way - they often can resist computer diseases in ways Windows cannot, and may serve to slow propagation.

Perhaps the solution as regards computers is to introduce semirandom variety in Windows operating systems. I propose that the Windows development arm of Microsoft be split into 10 autonomous units (still under Microsoft - the feds couldn't make them do a real Baby Bell type split) each of which works on their own breed of Windows. One way to introduce this variety would be to incorporate components of other operating systems. The resulting genetic variety would slow propagation of viruses and worms.

bungston, Aug 22 2003

Kazakh apples http://news.nationa.../1030_TVapples.html
[bungston, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

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       What a fine diversity of links. And fonts. I wonder if the millenium bug worries in 1999 spawned all that discussion. Although none of it seems to really bear on the bug.
bungston, Aug 22 2003
  

       I think the system we use now works great. As soon as a bug is discovered, it's exploited, causes a minor nuisance, then within days or sometimes hours, patched. A few more generations of operating systems, I think security will be near perfect. It's a much simpler/faster process than dealing with crop-eating beasties.
jivetalkinrobot, Aug 22 2003
  

       Instead of wasting millions on lawyers fighting Microsoft the government should have supported initiatives to develop a new competitive OS for public use. UNIX in its various flavors isn't that great either. With, let's say, 20 teams working on their own ideas some variety should have developed.
kbecker, Aug 22 2003
  

       Genetic (i.e., evolving) algorithms are widely used, if not yet for operating systems. I can certainly foresee a time when most if not all computer software has some kind of evolving structure, adapting to new threats and new resources. But we are still ways away from that yet.
DrCurry, Aug 22 2003
  
      
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