An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)

Are core wars just a game/challenge or do they have a practical/productive use? Could they? What, if any, are the social implications of core wars? And, in general, what are the pros and cons of core wars?




As far as I could see, core wars had no practical purpose. They were made purely for entertainment, though I don't personally see the entertainment value. However, as discussed in the example of the movie about selling an infected computer to Russia, I suppose core wars are in many ways like viruses and as such have social implications of having the potential to infect computers and eat our programs. In this way, core wars could(?) maybe be used as a form of warfare or sabotage. Maybe someone in class can enlighten me as to why core wars are so fascinating to so many people...


Core wars seem to be, for the most part, a computer geek game that has little practical/productive use. However, I can see a productive use coming out of core war games if the programs they eventually generate could be used by military intelligence to attack an future enemy's computer systems and somehow deactivate some or all of their military capabilities that are operated by computer systems.

The social implications of core wars would be important only if computer geeks started trying to have war with non-playing people in order to hack their computers or spread viruses. This kind of activity is unethical, but for the time being, virtually unstoppable, or at least very poorly curtailed.

In general, core wars give computer geeks something to rest their egos on besides activities that could potentially have more costs to society. However, in some ways, I think they waste the valuable skills of intelligent computer scientists who might contribute more usefully to social welfare, or even to business efficiency, which would hopefully improve the quality of life for people. I think everything happens for a reason though, so maybe these games will take on a new importance in the future, contributing to applications that transcend the closed set world of computer core wars. As an aside, that article was written in 1986. So, if core wars are going to be any more useful to computer science than they are right now, they are obviously taking their time getting to that stage.


On the one hand, Core Wars could be viewed as merely a game in which two computer programs engage in "battle" and seek to "destroy" their opponents. On this type of recreational level, Core Wars is certainly harmless. However, it is clear that such programs hold greater implications in terms of their applicability to viruses and worms, both of which are highly destructive to computers and quite annoying to users.

While there is an inherent danger in Core Wars programming languages in this regard, given that an assembly-language such as CREEPER (which could be used to propogate computer viruses), can be countered by REAPER (which could be used to find and destroy computer viruses), the implications of Core Wars does not appear to be entirely negative. At the very least, Core Wars assembly languages seem to offer some recourse for combatting its potentially negative applications/effects.




Congratulations to Joel for picking the coolest of the topics for presentation. I think these "core wars" of Dude-knee's creation are pretty neat, though kind of boring as games go. It's basically a game of "I AM THE BETTER COMPUTER GEEK!!" for the programmers, but hey, good for the programmers. I suspect Dude-knee just has time on his hands and never had much interest in writing games with submersive 3D environments, or just wasn't good enough. I suppose, as far as social implications go, core wars have the same basic implications as regular computer games: very pretty and/or interesting time-wasters. Relaxing, sure, and if you're like me and enjoy blowing things up and watching the blood splatter on walls, really fun as well. I think core wars and similar programs are fun so long as you enjoy the whole programming "thing," but as a non-programmer, either watching or trying to figure it out are just too boring.



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