Viruses, Viruses: the IT and the Bio

A few years back I worked for a largish institution and had occasion to do a stocktaking job with lots of minute detail, of the kind that no-one in their right mind would care to do twice. The computer crashed and died and all my painstaking work was lost and had to be done again. The same scenario repeated itself in other offices and eventually it was found that a computer virus had taken out many of the institution’s computers. The virus was traced to another large institution, which was totally computer-disabled for 2 days as a result. It turned out that someone in our institution was married to someone in their institution and they were sharing disks on their home computer.
The investigation went deeper (as one of the affected institutions was a law organization). It was found that the perpetrator of the virus was actually the owner and principle of a company making anti-virus software! They were keeping pace with all the new computer viruses appearing on the scene from ‘who knows where’, and doing very good business (surprise, surprise!). He’s now in jail, where he belongs….
Now what’s this got to do with biology?
Well, for one example, when I see the profits of the vaccine manufacturers skyrocketing into the billions from our tax money, while they make a plethora of new vaccines to keep pace with all the new people-viruses appearing on the scene from ‘who knows where’, I can’t help noticing the parallels with our married couple sharing computer story. Perhaps with “tech” rapidly out-distancing “bio” in certain stretches of the human civilization race, some of the bios taking a page out of the tech’s manual and learning how to do new and profitable (for themselves) things with biological materials (at our expense)?

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