Some of the best works of art in the world are known for their elaborate background history or complex history, but not many are dangerous for those who own them. "The persistence of chaos" could be an exception. Created by internet artist Guo O Dong, this work of art is an ordinary laptop computer filled with six of the most dangerous pieces of malware in the world. It's perfectly safe, as long as you do not connect to your Wi-Fi or connect a USB.
Talking to The Verge the artist Guo O Dong says that the intention behind the laptop was to realize the abstract threats posed by the digital world.
"We have the fantasy that things that happen in computers can not really affect us, but this is absurd," says Guo. "Armed viruses that affect power grids or public infrastructure can cause direct damage."
The six viruses in the laptop (a Samsung NC10-14GB of 10.2 inches) were selected for the magnitude of the economic damage they caused. They include the ILOVEYOU virus, a 2000 computer error that often appeared as a "love letter" attached to emails; and WannaCry, a ransomware attack that shut down computers in hospitals and factories around the world in 2017, and which intelligence agencies attributed to North Korea.
Guo says that WannaCry is the perfect example of how digital attacks have physical damage. "WannaCry … caused [UK’s National Health Service] the equivalent of $ 100 million in damages and led to the cancellation of tens of thousands of medical appointments," he says. "It's not a leap to say that this caused significant human harm, although it might be difficult to identify the effects exactly for the patient."
These are far from historical concerns: at this time, a ransomware attack is wreaking havoc in the city of Baltimore for example. In total, Guo estimates that the six viruses caused $ 95 billion in economic damages.
The piece was commissioned by the cybersecurity company DeepInstinct, and is currently being auctioned. You can watch a live transmission of the laptop to make sure it does not make sudden movements and monitor the price increase, currently at $ 1.2 million. This may seem like a lot to pay for an old riddle of a laptop with malware, but Guo says he likes to think of the piece as "a kind of bestiary, a catalog of historical threats."
The next time you have to fix a computer in the relationship and it appears in a similar state, try to tell you the same thing: "Ah, what a wonderful bestiary of historical threats!"