Artist created malware to subject computers to Covid-19 pandemic

What if your computer’s operation reflected the health conditions around your home?

Pandemic Pulse [le pouls de la pandémie] is malware that infects computer resources at the same rate as Covid-19 infections and deaths from your location. “This strange project, spotted by Motherboard, is the work of Justin Blinder, a” artist, technologist and researcher In his own words. The author of the program had published it in February and then put it away with the decline of the pandemic. It was ultimately the emergence of the delta variant that motivated him to republish it.

With his tool, the artist wishes to offer a different visualization of the health crisis. He wants to make sense of the production of impressive figures on the epidemic, figures frequently consulted thanks to sites like Covid Tracker. The tool draws on American data produced by CDC and therefore does not work for the French, but it still presents an interesting approach. ” The application recontextualizes relevant epidemiological data on the pandemic and attempts to make it tangible and relevant on a personal level », Details Blinder on its site. Through his computer, the spectator of the performance must be able to imagine the health situation.

No hacker, it is the user himself who installs the malware. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Voluntary malware

In detail, Pandemic Pulse will slow down the CPU (the main computational component of your computer) based on the local infection rate, while the screen brightness will be reduced compared to the covid death rate. The computer will thus react to the ambient health situation of the region of the user.

Although Pandemic Pulse can be described as “malware” (or malware), its victims purposely infected themselves to participate in the experiment, and the artist never intended to infect third-party computers. The program is prominently displayed on the computer and can be activated and deactivated with a single click. To reassure the most suspicious, Justin Blinder has published the source code of his tool on GitHub.

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