"On "global anti-spam day" last week, inboxes across the country were deluged with statistics on electronic junk mail. According to internet giant Yahoo!, spam costs the UK economy £6.7bn annually. Microsoft puts the global cost at $20bn (£11bn) a year."
what is email? a message from one computer to another. We built the net and opened the floodgates. now your machine has an ear and a mouth on port 25. At first everything heard was important, every email had meaning. now there is significant noise. but what is the noise? i say its a kind of artifical life.
its in someways a random message, trying to get in. immense in its population size. looking for that composition that works. the level of complexity on both sides of the spam war is increasing. software runs detection algorithms to filter out the noise. so the noise evolves and drops the traits that can trigger the spam detector. the detection routines are helped along by the software authors in their own evolution. if the internet is a software ecosystem then spam is the primordial ooze that will eventually evolve into intelligent agents.
the logic constructs available to a piece of spam is not enough to evolve much - a subset of HTML that only a portion of email readers are trusting enough to execute. that keeps spams evolution from taking on exponential growth. its evolution still comes manually from the mind of a human. one day a very compelling email extension or replacement will give the ooze what its needs to walk onto the beach.