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First viruses detected in DNA-based computers

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.


Ever since the first commercial transcriptors allowed for broad adoption of DNA-based computers, programmers have predicted the rise of molecular computer viruses. With Adelman’s Law–the observation that the proportion of molecular computers accounting for global processing power is logarithmically approaching a limit of infinitely less than 1–in full swing, it’s a testament to how poorly programmers understand the biological underpinnings of this new machine language that we haven’t seen to rise of literal computer viruses.

Until now.

For the first time since the big molecular servers came online a decade ago, a virus has been detected buried in the genetic code. This tiny, 3-base coding region (not surprisingly, a stop-codon) is wrapped in a sophisticated insertion jacket, which allows it to embed into the boot-loader, preventing a now obsolete driver from loading. This could cause problems for the few sysadmins still using Bridge 1.3 ports to interface between DNA and conventional computers.

Like the first conventional computer viruses, this appears to have been created as an exercise in curiosity, rather than an attempt to cause harm. The affected driver is barely used anymore (and can still be started manually), the virus (dubbed Zero Cloner) lacks the necessary code to transition between DNA and standard computers, meaning, while it could spread through a process center, it can’t bridge the digital/genetic divide, which means it likely won’t affect consumer hardware, with one notable exception.

Modern cyborg interfaces use a hybrid DNA/conventional interface to better interpret biological signals. A molecular computer virus could conceivably spread to cyborg systems. Fortunately, the current infection targets a piece of software which had never been part of cyborg architecture.

The fix is simple. A modified indel vector can lock onto the infectious locus and snip it cleanly from the computer’s’ system. While certainly a headache for the infected process center, there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage.  


On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.


Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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