DynaPsych Table of Contents


Computer Viruses and the Human Mind

 by Robin Robertson


Though I don't accept the currently popular description of the human mind as a super-computer, I still think that we can learn something from viewing the computer as one of many possible metaphors for the mind. In this article I intend to explore computer viruses as an extension of that metaphor.

 The same computer can run many different programs, just as a human can perform many different behaviors. Both the computer and the human mind store their programs in some sort of long-term memory until they are needed. The computer also needs a special program normally called an operating system (O/S) which operates at a higher level than any of the other programs. An O/S is like a foreman in a factory; it keeps things running smoothly. It knows which programs are running in the computer, which are waiting to run, and which have already run. However, the O/S doesn't decide which programs need to be run, just as the foreman doesn't decide what products a factory should make. This is an executive decision; a human operator tells the computer which programs need to be run in what order of importance. The O/S then schedules the programs, locates them in its long-term memory, runs them when it has the time and resources to do so, prints the results and stores the programs away again for later use.

 Note that there are at least three levels of operation at work here:

(1) the executive level which decides which programs should be run;

(2) a foreman level which keeps things running smoothly; and

(3) a worker level which does the actual work we associate with the computer.

By analogy, driving a car requires an executive decision on one level of the psyche, the organization and supervision of the necessary behaviors on a second level, and the actual behaviors on a third level. It is important to realize that only the executive level necessarily involves consciousness. The foreman and worker level can proceed famously without conscious intervention.


 Given that analogy between the human mind and the computer, let us look at the behaviors of computer viruses for analogies to problems with the mind. First, just what is a computer virus? John McAfee, one of the foremost experts on computer viruses, defines a virus as:

a computer program created to infect other programs with copies of itself. It has the ability to clone itself, so that it can multiply, constantly seeking new host environments. That may be all it does—a single mission to replicate and spread from one system to another. Or the virus program may be written to damage other programs, alter data, and then perhaps self-destruct, leaving no evidence of itself behind, so that defenses cannot be developed against it.

(McAfee & Haynes, 1990:1).

Thus computer viruses are much like biological viruses: a half-way point between life and non-life. They have the minimum requirement of all known living creatures: the ability to replicate themselves. They have enough intelligence to recognize their environment as friendly or hostile, and to take corresponding action. I think most people who aren't familiar with computers would be astonished to be told that any computer program could do even those two things. If they knew the full extent of the astonishing facility displayed by computer viruses, I think that astonishment might change into fear, fear not only of computer viruses, but of the future of computers. But that fear should really be turned back on the mind doing the fearing, because it is subject to the same attacks as a computer.

McAfee classifies viruses into three groups based on which part of the computer system they attack first (see McAfee, 1990: 61-74):

(1) the boot segment;

(2) the operating system; or

(3) one or more of the application programs.

 In the discussion that follows, I will consider "boot segment" viruses as a sub-set of "operating system" viruses, since I don't believe there is an equivalent to the boot segment in the human psyche (i.e., this is a small program which tells the computer how it can load the main operating system). But we have already seen that, even if we treat it only as a metaphor, the human psyche has equivalent abilities to the operating system and the application programs. So it is likely that the human psyche can be attacked much as viruses attack those components of the computer software.

 Operating system viruses replace some or all of the operating system with their own program code, then hide the normal operating system where they can get at it when needed. When any normal requirement is made of the operating system, say reading a file, the virus intercepts the request, and then sends it to the hidden operating system to perform. As far as the computer operator is concerned things look normal. Application program viruses are similar, except that they can attach to many types of programs. These programs don't have as much power as the operating system, but there are many more of them.

 So far, there is nothing particularly harmful about the behavior of the virus. All it does is add a minuscule amount of extra work to the system by intercepting requests to the operating system. But remember than the primary purpose of a virus is to replicate itself. Once safely occupying the former place of the operating system, the virus is ready to carry out that primary purpose. It looks for other programs to which it can attach copies of itself. If it is stupid and greedy, it will try and propagate indiscriminately, hooking onto any program that offers it a suitable environment. If more intelligent, it will only clone itself off to a small number of other programs. In general, it will look for a chance to spread to another computer. For example, if a floppy disk is inserted into the originally infected computer, it will find a program to connect to. When that floppy disk is used in another computer, the virus will clone itself off onto that computer in turn.

 Note that there is still nothing drastically wrong in the action of the virus. All it is doing is slightly draining the resources of the computer it has invaded. It is merely functioning as a parasite on a larger organism. Innumerable examples of such behavior abound in animal life. In the case of many viruses, this is all they were ever intended to do. Unfortunately, computer programmers are no more infallible than the rest of us, and therein lies the rub.


Nineteenth century mathematician Henri Poincare was prescient in realizing that "it may happen that small differences in the initial conditions produce very great ones in the final phenomena. A small error in the former produces an enormous error in the latter. Prediction becomes impossible" (Poincare, 1903). There is an interesting proof of Poincare's hypothesis in the recent experience of computer viruses.

Many of the viruses that have had the greatest impact have been intended to be totally benign. Unfortunately, small errors in program code have led to disastrous results. The most frequent such error is when a virus program, which was intended to infect a computer only once, doesn't realize it has already done its job, and keeps infecting the computer over and over. This was the problem with the infamous virus released at Cornell University on November 2, 1988, by Robert Morris, Jr., which rapidly brought the entire Internet system of computers to its knees. Where the small drain of a single virus can pass unnoticed by a computer system, millions of viruses can fill every bit of memory and use up every cycle of computing power of the computer they have invaded. (See Stoll, 1989: epilogue; McAfee, 1990).

People who aren't familiar with programming are unlikely to realize the significance of this problem. "Just be more careful that the program works correctly" they would probably suggest. Unfortunately, there has probably never been a complex system created which didn't have "bugs" in it. I remember when I was in charge of a software development department which was programming a new system to replace a major system we had been using for over seven years. While the new development programmers were busy at work on the new system, maintenance programmers still stayed busy fixing bugs in the old system. And that was after seven years!

The hidden message revealed by the widely publicized cases of infection by computer viruses is that existing computer systems of all sorts could be making very large errors that have never been recognized. This means the computer systems that take care of every aspect of the world's financial life, computer systems that keep personal records on you and me, computer systems that support the military capabilities of the super-powers. Good system developers test systems thoroughly before installation, attempting to test every possible logic path. However, with a system of any reasonable level of complexity, this is an impossible task, so a major system is likely only to have been thoroughly tested for frequently occurring events. It's the infrequently occurring events, and especially the unforeseen combinations of events, that are the bane of systems developers. And those are also the areas where Poincare's admonition is most likely to come into play.


I think it's time to remember that we are discussing computer viruses not in themselves, interesting as they are, but to draw a comparison to the human psyche. What, if anything, in the human psyche, corresponds to computer viruses?

First, let's recall where this enquiry began. We argued that while the human mind is not merely a biological super-computer, it definitely has some functions similar to those of a computer. For example, any individual human mind has a wide variety of "programs" stored away, for use when necessary. Just to mention a few diverse examples, we might have stored a program that tells us how to play tennis, another program that enables us to operate a computer such as I'm using to write this book. All of us have a series of highly complex programs to draw on in social settings. These programs may or may not have anything to do with consciousness. For example, another program might drive our car for us, even if our conscious attention is elsewhere. The wide variety of programs available to a normal person is almost uncountable.

We also appear to have a higher-level mental function similar to the operating system of a computer, something which keeps track of the total system, loads and runs programs as necessary, allocates resources where needed, etc. Again, consciousness doesn't appear to be involved in this operation, any more than it is in the running of a particular application program. This is not to deny that consciousness can enter the scene and take control of a previously unconscious program; it's just to assert that the human psyche is able to operate quite well even in the limited role of a computer, totally devoid of consciousness.

Computer programs are highly organized groups of abstract symbols, specific to the computer they are intended to operate within. They are stored in some form of relatively permanent memory accessible by the computer, either by being permanently attached to the computer, or by being able to be read into the computer when necessary. The programs of the human psyche must be similar. The storage might be something obvious, like a record of synaptic changes in the brain, or less obvious, like a pattern of musculature in the body.

C. G. Jung and a succession of analytic psychologists who have extended his work, argue that one source of memory is outside the individual human psyche; they term this source the collective unconscious. Many Eastern and occult traditions have postulated a similar source of memory outside the human psyche; one name for this is an akasic record. Recently, biologist Rupert Sheldrake has achieved fame (or infamy, depending on who discusses his work) for postulating the existence of morphogenetic fields which structure all reality. But we don't have to consider any of these possibilities as yet in our narrative.

The operating system of the human psyche, like the operating system of a computer, operates at a higher level than the application programs of the psyche. At the beginning of this article, I used the analogy of "workers" for the application programs and "foreman" for the operating system. Consciousness forms the highest level of that analogy: the decision maker. If our analogy between computer and human mind can be extended this far, the operating system must also be a program, albeit a highly complex program. In a computer, the operating system is usually stored in part in a permanent, extremely compact form on one or more computer chips. This makes this part of the operating system incredibly fast at performing necessary repetitive tasks. The remainder of the operating system is stored as software, much like any other program, except that its function is to control the entire computer.

The human equivalent to the part of the operating system stored on permanent computer chips is probably the entire structure of the human body, with a special emphasis on the DNA structure in the genes, and the nervous system culminating in the human brain. But the entire body structure contributes to the control of itself in a way much more complex than any existing computer. However, the analogy is still close enough for our purposes.

Our comparison between a computer and the human mind seems to indicate that a fair comparison can be made, though the human mind appears to be much more complex. And, by complex, I don't mean only that the human mind seems to be a super-computer that exceeds the capabilities of any existing computer; I mean that the human mind seems to have capabilities that inherently exceed any possible computer. But that's a separate issue—the human mind is certainly as complex as any computer, and has functions analogous to the operating system, memory and application programs we have discussed as parts of a computer.


So, by analogy, there might well be some entity equivalent to a computer virus capable of invading and attaching itself to components of the human mind. It might be more sophisticated, but it should have the basic abilities of the computer virus. That is, there should be a type of autonomous program capable of hiding within the psyche, then reproducing itself when it gets an opportunity to spread to either other parts of the psyche, or even other psyches. In other words, a program which is at least marginally alive—an organism, not a machine!

I'd like to propose that the sub-personalities of the human psyche, which we encounter most explicitly in our dreams, fulfil an analogous role. As opposed to a merely mechanical program, such as the program to tie our shoes, the sub-personalities of our dreams have life, individuality. Some are more fully developed than others, of course, For example, those which represent people we know well in our lives, tend to be nearly as fully developed in our inner world. Jungian psychology has traced the development of these sub-personalities in Jung’s theory of complexes with archetypal cores, and most specifically in the archetypal figure of the Shadow (see Noll, 1989.)

Shadow figures appear when something new is needed in our personality, some quality which is denied by our conscious personality as ridiculous or sinful or any of the pejorative adjectives we use to try and deny something our of existence. When the person we are is no longer able to deal satisfactorily with his or her life, Shadow figures representing the needed qualities begin to appear in our dreams. At first, Shadow figures tend to be inhuman: alien beings from another planet, vampires, ghouls, disgusting animals of all sorts. This is because at this stage of awareness, we cannot possibly admit that we could possibly possess the unconscious qualities, so they personify themselves as creatures as inhuman an possible. But note that they still are personified!

Time after time in our dreams, the ego finds itself confronted by these Shadow figures: fleeing from them, fighting with them. If we are largely afraid of these new qualities, the Shadow figures win the confrontations. We might find ourselves waking in a cold sweat, just before a vampire catches us, just before a wild beat rips us to pieces. If we are angry and disgusted at the necessary behavior, we might win the confrontations. We struggle with an alien being, but "righteously" defeat them. The righteousness, the fear, the disgust, are all barriers that keep us from encountering the Shadow qualities more truthfully.

As we struggle, usually unconsciously, with the demands presented by these Shadow figures, they gradually evolve. Vicious aliens may become vicious criminals; though still repugnant to us, they are at least human. Familiarity can breed not only contempt for the over-valued, but acceptance for the under-valued. Criminals may gradually transform again, this time into people we consider barely acceptable, marginal. These marginal characters may change in turn into acquaintances, not quite friends, but still people we tolerate and respect in our lives. Then perhaps further into close friends or relatives.

As these transformations take place, the dream confrontations shift accordingly. We are likely to deal with a vicious criminal differently than we would with an inhuman creature, with a close friend differently than with a mere acquaintance. These scenes mirror perfectly the shift if the ego's attitude toward these qualities. We begin to tolerate values we had denied out of hand before. Toleration may grow into acceptance. Finally accepted values no longer need to be personified by other personalities because they are part of our own personality. The Shadow figures no longer need to appear. But, of course, there are always new personality traits to develop and new Shadow figures appear.


The evolution of the Shadow can start at any stage from inhuman creatures to close friends, depending on how far the qualities thus personified are from being able to be assimilated by our conscious personality. During the evolution of the Shadow within us, we find ourselves using a psychological mechanism known as "projection" to give the Shadow outer life. When we encounter someone who has the rejected quality as part of their personality, we "project" the Shadow onto them. If we are at an early stage of dealing with the Shadow, we find the person totally repulsive, possessed of qualities abhorrent to any decent person (as we, of course, imagine ourselves to be). Since their personality includes these qualities which are so far from our conscious personality, it is quite likely that our personality includes qualities which are Shadow qualities for them. So they project their Shadow onto us and we find ourselves mutually despising each other.

Of course, the Shadow may start out not a totally disgusting inhuman figure, but an awe-inspiring Godlike figure. Some Jungians term this the positive Shadow, but there is little need to make such a discrimination. In this case, as in the one we have already traced, the conscious personality is dealing with qualities which it is totally unwilling to admit are part of itself. Again, over time, gradual transformation takes place until we are finally willing to admit that perhaps we do possess such qualities after all.

When we project these godlike qualities onto others, there is an even stronger tendency on their part to accept our projection as correctly fitting them. Of course it doesn't. We are projecting more than human qualities onto a human. And, it's important to note that projections don't have to fit terribly well; if there is any sort of "hook," any sort of even approximate match in the other personality, we are likely to project the whole Shadow onto the person.

In this scenario, we can see how a program of the psyche takes on life. Initially, it is quite a marginal life, just a totally repugnant figure with no well-defined qualities (or alternatively, a totally Godlike figure). But as its place in our psyche becomes more permanent, it takes on more of the trappings of life: it becomes better defined, and appears in a wider varies of circumstances. This is analogous to the virus spreading to other programs within a single computer. When it is projected out onto others, like a virus, it may or may not find a suitable environment to attach itself. If the person accepts the projection (which is much more likely if it is a highly flattering projection), it will undoubtedly grow inside their psyches in turn. They will see themselves in that new role more often, until they have to deal with it in turn, since acceptance of a godlike role is equally a poor fit for a merely human personality.


Cases of multiple personality disorder (MPD) provide striking examples of the wide range of possibilities for personified programs contained within the human psyche, and how such programs are seemingly recorded over the whole body/psyche. For example, the shifts of personality of some MPD patients are so profound that one personality might have an allergy while another personality doesn't. One MPD patient had been tortured with cigarette burns as a child. When that personality took over, the burns would appear on the skin and last for many hours. (See O'Regan, 1985: 20).

In general, there is a hierarchy of development of personalities within a patient suffering from MPD, varying from personalities which are so fragmentary that they could almost be considered small, function-specific programs, to wise complex personalities who try to help the doctor in the process of integrating the full personality. Psychologist Allan Combs has half-jokingly coined the apt term "personoids" for these fragmentary personalities. These personoids also vary widely in the extent of their knowledge about events that have happened to the patient. They may be aware of only what has occurred when their personality was in control, may have knowledge of other less complex personalities, or may even have almost total knowledge, which far exceeds that available to the dominant personality.

Opinions vary widely on how wide-spread such sub-personalities are. The most skeptical opinion is that there is no such thing as multiple personalities, that they are simply a creation of the therapist dealing with the patient. (E.g., see Baker, 1996). However, most psychologists recognize the process of dissociation, in which a person, usually in response to some profound stress, separates their consciousness from the traumatic situation, leaving some personoid in control. It is natural to assume that if this happens frequently enough, such a sub-personality would attain some degree of independence. In contrast to this view, which regards such sub-personalities as products of mental aberration, Jung regarded these sub-personalities as perfectly normal products of the dynamic of the unconscious. The unconscious is continually reacting to complement the inadequacies of consciousness, and this reaction inevitably takes personified form. However, as long as there is a healthy ego consciousness, these sub-personalities remain unconscious and only appear in dreams and projections. In this view, the only thing abnormal about multiple personalities is that they serially share consciousness. (See Wilson, 1978, for an excellent summary for the general reader of most of the most significant cases of multiple personality disorder).

Next we have to consider who writes the programs of the human psyche.


Computer viruses are created by human programmers, just like any other program, such as the operating system or the application programs. Who or what creates the programs of the human psyche? Well, many of them come hard-wired at birth. Some of them might not be triggered until the person has developed to a stage where they are appropriate; e.g., innate sexual programs, but the programs are there, nevertheless, preexistent in the psyche. Other programs, personal or cultural, are learned by the person during their development. That is, as a person performs an action many times, that action becomes stored inside them such that it no longer needs to be conscious. Tying a shoe lace is one example, though virtually all our learned skills fall into this category.

Computer programs are usually written in one of a number of "high-level" computer languages. All are merely conveniences for human programmers. These are called high-level because they fit humans, not computers. Before they can be run on a computer, a translation program (called a compiler) translates the program into a low-level language which the computer can understand. Some of the more complex computer programs, such as the modern word-processors, spreadsheets and data bases, frequently contain a computer language specific to their program. The programs you can write, with these languages within a program, are called "macros" (though many other terms are also frequently used). Most macros can be written in one of two ways:

It is this latter method of writing a program that interests us. The human psyche must possess a very complex macro recording function. For example, our minds remember sequences of actions which we have performed, in case we need to perform them again. If the actions are performed many times, we get better at it (i.e., the code of the program becomes "tighter," more efficient). Eventually, such a program is available to be run as necessary by our body's operating system with no conscious intervention on our part.


Seemingly all of our human programs are written in this fashion. Either we learn a skill and record it in our store of programs, or if enough humans learn it over a long enough time, Jung and Sheldrake would argue (and I would agree) that it gets stored in a more permanent fashion in either our genes or in the collective unconscious.

Our dreams appear to be an important extension of this macro method of writing and recording programs. Let us consider the combined human body and psyche as a biochemical machine of great complexity (which isn't too say that is all that it is). As such, the body/psyche isn't aware of the difference between dreaming of an action and actually performing that action. Drawing on that fact, in recent years, great strides have been made in teaching new skills, or retraining skills lost through physical accidents, using visualization. Before the body can perform a task itself, visualizing that action can help the body become capable of performing it. Once the body is able to perform the action, a combination of physical practice and visualization is much more effective at mastering a skill than simple physical practice alone.

I first experienced this ability of the body/psyche personally in my early childhood, when I had polio. Though I had many forms of physical therapy, including heat lamps and whirlpool baths, the primary therapy was one discovered by an Australian nurse (Sister Kinney) that combined muscle effort with visualization. I would try and exert some pressure with my legs against resistance, such as lifting a weight, or pushing against someone's hands. Initially, my muscles were too withered away for me to be able to exert any pressure at all. What was revolutionary then was that I was also taught to visualize my legs moving the weight at the same time I tried physically. Eventually, this combination of visualization and physical therapy restored my legs to normal. (See Robertson, 1989.)

Few of us are formally trained in such visualization techniques, yet all of us received an informal training nightly in our dreams. In dreams, we perform many actions, and deal with many situations, long before those actions are necessary in our physical life. But, having dealt with a similar situation in our dream life, it is easier to deal with in our physical life, even when it occurs for the very first time. In many cases this is crucial to our survival. And anything that is crucial to our survival will have honed itself over time into a very efficient program. Research work by French neurophysiologist Michel Jouvet supports this concept of dreams producing macro programs which can later be drawn on in everyday life. In 1975, he theorized that dreams (which he terms paradoxical sleep) release genetic programs which serve to reorganize the brain. His extensive research with cats serves to bolster this theory. (See Rossi, 1985. 203-206).

We live in an "unlabeled world" (to use Edelman, Gerald M. Gerald Edelman’s phrase). We come into that world with pre-existing brain brainstructure of structures archetypes that may be highly specific (as with bird songs, for example), but which still have to take their final form from our experiences with the physical world. The brain has to have mechanisms available to modify its own structure in order to improve the match between the model it carries inside and the world outside. That is, we have to learn from experience and add that knowledge to our long-term memory.

It is just within the last few years that we have actually discovered how this process takes place. When we "visualize and engage in an imaginative drama", the whole body responds, whether we are doing this in an actual real-life event, a dream, or an active imagination. The psychosynthesis autonomic nervous system autonomic nervous system activates, making our heart beat faster and sending hormones to our body to prepare it for action. But we also send information to the brain in order to make permanent changes, if necessary, to its model of reality. Some researchers now believe that whenever the sympathetic system comes into play, intermediate-early genes (IEGs) intermediate-early genes (IEGs) are triggered. Through a process of genes creating proteins which in turn affects neural structures, these genes actually make permanent changes in the brain (see Rossi, 1998). With changes in neural structure in place, then the cycle completes as "mind modulates the biochemical functions within the cells of all the major organ systems and tissues of the body via the autonomic nervous system" (Rossi, 1986, 108). In other words, the body changes the mind, then the mind changes the body.

Let's take that a little more slowly. Our body and psyche form such an integrated whole that anything taking place in any part is in some way recorded in every part of the system. The body/psyche is capable of sending messages throughout itself by way of chemicals like hormones, of electrical impulses, through the physical connections of bone and musculature, etc. All of these messages are ultimately also registered in the brain, which, in ways still largely unknown, is capable of recreating every aspect of a whole event, including the sights, sounds, smells, taste, temperature, emotional content, etc.

Any subset of that memory can trigger the whole memory. For example, a smell can bring back a memory so vividly that it seems to be recurring again. The use of smell as a trigger was undoubtedly more developed in our ancestors, as it is in most of the animal world, but we still possess it to a greater extent than we are aware of. For Marcel Proust, the taste of a cookie brought back an enormous trail of memories that became his enormous series of novels Remembrances of Things Past. (See Rossi, 1986, pgs. 36–56 for a summary of past research in state-dependent learning).

People vary in the sense that is most likely to be the cornerstone of their memories. For example, as I have explained in a previously published article (Robertson, 1989), I tend to have a "visceral" body memory of actions and events. But, for most people. the primary memory trigger is through vision: we SEE past events in our minds. For exceptionally good visualizers, there is virtually no difference between physically seeing a scene and later visualizing that same scene in their minds. Though few of us are quite that good, our memories normally start with a picture in our mind's eye. When that picture appears, it triggers the totality of experience of our body and psyche at the time of the event. We not only see the event, we hear the sounds, smell the smells, etc. Since those secondary organs are not as developed as our vision, we might not be able to call them up into consciousness, but they are recorded in our bodies nevertheless. Most significantly, our bodies are able to re-experience the emotions we felt during the original event. This is because the image brings back the total state of our body at the time of the event. The less we consciously intrude on this process, the more successfully it operates.

This is the principle first recorded in the West in Eugen Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery. The author told almost magical stories of the very real abilities of Zen archers. The archers tried to let their entire bodies pull the bow and shoot the arrow. In fact, they "became the bow and arrow." They were fully capable of being blind-folded, drawing their bow and shooting an arrow into the exact bulls-eye of a target in a flash. This was because the body acting as a whole is a much more efficient mechanism than the body under the control of consciousness. In recent years, Western athletes have turned this principle to advantage in virtually all sports.

Similarly, we all try to take conscious control of our lives. We attempt to analyze where we are in our lives and where we want to go. We make conscious plans how to achieve our goals, and consciously check on our progress toward those goals. However, when our lives get more complex, consciousness is not capable of dealing with enough variables to successfully solve our dilemmas, to plot our future course. Yet our body/psyche is able to respond to just such complexities. In our dreams, we see a reflection of the total psyche's response to where we are and where we need to be going. If we are stuck in some problem situation in our life, our dreams, unconstrained by conscious do's and do's, are able to access the total memory bank of our mind, body, and (if Jung is right) the collective evolutionary history of our species, to solve that problem. Beyond that, dreams are able to try out variations on that solution, until it finds one or more which seem adequate to the problem. All of that goes on beneath the surface of consciousness, certainly in our dreams, and probably at every minute of the day when the psyche is not occupied with other actions.


We have traveled a long way from the simple computer virus to Zen archers capable of hitting a target while blindfolded. The question is whether this analogy tells us something about the human psyche, or whether it is merely one more attempt to reduce the complex to the simple. Most attempts to draw an analogy between computers and the human mind, argue for a reductionist position that the mind is nothing more than a biological computer, containing a combination of hard-wired, inherited programs, and soft-wired, acquired programs. In this article, we have searched for the equivalent function of the human mind, and found that the lowest level already seems to be a primitive personality. In the case of those with multiple personality defect, some of these sub-personalities are very crude, but still recognizably human personalities. In other words, as we look for a lowest common denominator for the mind, we continue to find a developed human whole.

In fact, the analogy between computer virus and human sub-personality is now so close that it is tempting to reverse it and realize that the computer virus is a very, very elementary attempt at the development of conscious life. Every conscious part of the human personality begins as a crude, almost mechanical, figure with few defined qualities, but eventually develops into a multi-faceted part of consciousness. It seems likely that the marginal level of life exhibited by a computer virus will not remain at that marginal level forever. Though the computer virus is composed of relatively simple program code, because of its desire to continue to live and to perpetuate itself, it is closer to a personified whole than it is to the special purpose programs to which reductionists would like to limit the mind. Life seems to want to emerge no matter whether the medium is biological or numerical. 


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