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Are we losing the virus wars?

The openness of "generative" technologies like the PC and the internet has led to great innovations—but also to an upward spiral of viruses, worms and spam. Such bad code threatens to derail the internet and promote "sterile" appliances like the iPhone

The internet and the PCs attached to it are sometimes known as “generative” technologies, meaning that they allow anyone to build and share new uses for them without the approval of “gatekeepers.” Yet today, malicious code that seemed of little significance when it first appeared—such as viruses, and the spam email now known to everyone with an email account—threatens to drive people away from the internet and towards sterile, stand-alone appliances that can be manipulated only with the acquiescence of their manufacturers.

Our open technologies are now routinely subverted. One common type of “malware” compromises PCs to create “botnets”—networks of…

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