You need to know your enemy better than yourself. Much, much better.
It’s best to know how Sars Cov 2 “thinks.” What its biological intelligence tells you it wants.
But viruses don’t “think, ” they just do.
They are ruthless, invisible parasites that make the Aliens in “Alien” appear pretty pussycats.
Yet with the aid of Dr. Edlund’s AI friends, we were able to get Sars Cov 2 to speak on the record, and let out a few of its infectious secrets.
AI – Can you tell us a little about your origins?
The Virus – It’s no secret I was born in China years ago. Becoming a new species carries a great responsibility. Like most start-ups, most of us don’t even get noticed before we’re gone. You humans don’t get evolution – it’s the species you want to survive, not individuals.
So I knew I had to do something different – go big, go global, break things, scale. I didn’t want to go planetary for a biological instant then hide in some cave, like my cousins SARS and MERS.
I had to jump out of the starting gate at warp speed and move in everywhere, like the Internet. It’s nice to see some Silicon Valley Types read their high school biology texts.
AI – What was your business plan?
The Virus -First, cross species. For a new species to survive, you need to diversify. Bats, then pangolins, cats. Humans were a big prize. They’re planetary. They even think they’re the dominant terrestrial species; well, they never talk to bacteria. And they fly!
Billions of them, going to places they can’t even live! I might even hitch a ride into outer space!
But to get to humans you need to prove very smart. I tried to model myself on influenza. The first issue – how to transmit?
Humans must breathe. And they’re social, like ants. They can’t stop talking to each other, even when alone. Just talking for a minute can pump out thousands of respiratory droplets, and each droplet can contain a thousand or more versions of me. And all you need is 500-1000 particles to infect. Every syllable gave me a shot – all I required was humans breathing on and talking to each other.
But then I innovated.
SARS in part got crushed because humans were sick before they infected others. So I got people without any symptoms to pump out billions of my viral particles – they even splash the most just before they’re symptomatic! As you know the strategy worked, with fantastic market share. I aimed for a reproductive rate of at least 3 – with just 15 iterations, I could infect 14 million people. The more you infect, the better.
AI – How’s that?
The Virus – Any virus needs to build a reservoir of infected individuals. The human immune system is always fighting off viruses; large parts of their DNA came from us. A large group of infected individuals, many of whom don’t even know they’re sick, lets you mutate and adapt to defeat their multi-system defense systems. They’ve had millions of years to build these things, so it’s not easy. I’m hoping to get to the point where I mutate as fast as influenza because then humans can’t eradicate me like they did to smallpox. If I keep coming up with new versions, they’ll have to endlessly modify vaccines. I’ll become immortal.
AI – The way you’re talking makes you sound like a parasite.
The Virus – That’s a badge of honor! Maybe 40-50% of animal species are parasites. Evolutionarily, we’re smart – we take over already built systems and make them work for us. Heck, humans value parasites. Your richest people are hedge fund managers and private equity guys, not to mention dictators – they’re just like us.
AI – That’s debatable.
So who are your biggest enemies?
The Virus – Scientists. Scientists and epidemiologists are bad, very bad. Look at Taiwan. Their vice president is an epidemiologist, and they’ve had 7 deaths from my work and didn’t shut down their economy. Vietnam claims zero deaths (it was a couple, but who wants to break a perfect record), Sri Lanka, 9. And they did it with tracing, tracking, quarantines. Cheap, really effective stuff. That kind of work can eradicate me. Look at what those folks did to SARS. And now they’ve got all these folks working on vaccines, so I’ve got to up my game.
Fortunately, I’ve got some great friends.
AI – Who might they be?
The Virus – Politicians. I love politicians. They mock the scientists, which lets me rip.
Take Bolsanaro, in Brazil.
Great guy. Tells everybody Brazilians can’t get infected.
It’s wonderful when people underestimate me, I can build infectious reservoirs day and night. Plus there’s Ortega in Nicaragua, saying I’m no big deal and hiding the bodies.
But I owe the most to America. I greatly feared CDC. I thought they’d coordinate their species’ fight against me.
Instead, they did wonderful things. They told researchers like Rachel Chu, who knew I’d hit Seattle bad, researching me was illegal! Losing your grants and going to jail illegal! And then they came up with tests that didn’t work, followed by not allowing others to make them, cut the number of people they’d allow to test. By then I was in so many places I achieved exponential growth in Milan and New York and spread myself everywhere.
But I know it all came from higher up. The president had been gutting CDC for years. First, he told everybody I was controlled, would suddenly disappear. Focused on treatment, not prevention. Made sure no one coordinated anything, especially tracing and tracking. Pushed treatments like injecting Lysol and blasting skin with light. Fought masks, real herd immunity since masks cut my main form of transmission, something the East Asians know. Talked about liberating Virginia, when what he meant was liberating my right to infect. Best of all, he made people go at each other’s throats. If humans unify, fight species to species, they might knock me out. I can’t tell you how much I owe the guy.
AI – So what are your future plans?
The Virus – You think I’ll tell you? Well, it’s pretty obvious. Work on getting enough infected humans to create a reservoir for innovation – new mutations that will defeat vaccines, make me more transmissible. I might try becoming a little less lethal. Your goal is to survive as a species, and SARS killed so many so fast it helped get itself wiped out. Producing more chronic illness may also help, as that helps build the reservoir. And of course, I’ll need to infect more species. These giant Asian mosquitoes appear interesting.
I’d love to expand into insects – there are so many of them. It’s incredible how many markets you can infect!
Last I’d like to meet this guy Scott Burns, who wrote the screenplay for “Contagion.” That movie was a turn on for lots of us start up viruses – Gwyneth Paltrow infecting the world. Though the ending, coming up with a vaccine in like two weeks?
That’s Hollywood for you.
The virus correctly points out that it’s greatest enemy is a globally unified species working together. In a pandemic, everyone’s health is your health. The goal is not mere prevention and control, but eradication, as the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand point out. With effective vaccines, globally developed and sent to where they are needed most, eradication becomes possible.
Even AIs know that.