Copy Either of These Two "Image" Viruses to Your Web Page
Clifford A. Pickover
Neither of these two "viruses" will do any harm. After all, they're just
images. Yet, in a strange way, they act like viruses, and can be tracked like a
spreading epidemic, or like a radioactive probe introduced into the bloodstream.
The wording on the image viruses will attract others to copy one of them to
their web pages. Let me know if you take either image and put it on your page so
I can track their spread. Place one on your page today! In a few years, this
probe will be everywhere on the web.
This will surely be a conversation piece. Future historians of the web will
wonder how it all started. Be part of the amazing adventure.
Questions to ponder regarding the spread of information on the web:
- It has been said that all people on Earth are linked to one another by a
chain of five or fewer acquaintances. For example, if I were to give you a
random name of someone in California, you could get a message to him or her by
giving a message to a friend or yours who perhaps lived somewhere in the
western U.S. This person would, in turn, give the message to another friend,
and so on. In five or fewer steps, your message would arrive at the
destination through a chain of friends. This closeness and interrelatedness
has profound implications on how we view the world.
- If all the computers attached to the Internet were to collaborate on a
single problem, would humanity find answers to questions that are now too hard
to solve? If everyone on the planet had access to infinite computer speed and
memory, how would the world be different? (I answer this question in my book
Computers and the Imagination.)
- Rumors are easily spread on the Internet. Extrapolating from what we now
know, what does this mean for the future of our planet? For example, someone
now could put up a false web site advertising organs for transplantation, with
an ordering form and even pictures of organs. How can you tell what is real on
- Many people do not like "spam" -- unsolicited junk e-mail from anonymous
people trying to sell products. Currently, people often get 10 "spams" in a
single day. What prevents people from getting 100 a day? What actions should
be taken to solve this problem?
- To what degree is the Internet like a human brain?
- Could aliens, with very strong satellite receivers, be monitoring the
Internet right now? I like to imagine the faint possibility that
supercivilizations are already linked in a galactic federation of intelligent
beings. Perhaps they are experienced in making contacts with emerging
intelligence such as our own. If there are super-intelligent, technological
races in our Galaxy, then the Messengers may already be here in our Solar
System, hibernating in wait mode. This is a safe way for the aliens to gain or
give information without making the dangerous interstellar voyage. There may
be thousands of Messengers swarming in the asteroid belt, reproducing using
the large deposits of metals in this region. Their antennas might be pointed
at Earth right now -- waiting for the next Einstein, Jesus or Mother Theresa
to hit our air waves... Perhaps by monitoring major telephone microwave links
between New York and New Jersey or various communication satellites, aliens
could be scanning and downloading the entire contents of the Internet's World
Wide Web as they searched it for works of art, music, science, and literature.
Whether they like it or not, they would also be downloading the
ever-increasing pornography, romantic discussions, money-making schemes,
Pamela Sue Anderson photos, conspiracy theories, and all manner of wild and
As hard as it may be to stomach, our entertainment will be our
earliest transmissions to the stars. If we ever receive inadvertent
transmissions from the stars, it will be their entertainment. Imagine
this. The entire Earth sits breathlessly for the first extraterrestrial images
to appear on CNN. One of the preppy-and-perfect news anchors appears on our
TVs for instant live coverage. And then, beamed to every home, are the alien
equivalents of Pamela Sue Anderson in a revealing bathing suit, Beavis and
Butthead mouthing inanities and expletives, and an MTV heavy-metal band
consisting of screaming squids.
This is not such a crazy scenario. In fact, satellite studies show that the
Super Bowl football action, which is broadcast from more transmitters than any
other signal in the world, would be the most easily detected message from
Earth. The first signal from an alien world could be the alien equivalent of a
football game. Lesson one: we had better not assess an entire culture
solely on the basis of their entertainment. Lesson two: you can learn a
lot about a culture from their entertainment.
Return to Cliff
Pickover's home page which includes the Wishing Project cataloging wishes
from various cultures, computer art, educational puzzles, fractals, virtual
caverns, JAVA/VRML, alien creatures, black hole artwork, and animations.