I now propose a new theory of viruses. Hypothesis: viruses are used by living cells to communicate information to other living cells. They are part of the normal behavior of cells. This is a modification to the theory by Dr. Margolis (in 2018) about extracellular vesicles.
Observation: Cells use a number of methods to communicate with other cells, they release chemicals, they change electrical charge, and other methods which have been documented over the last 150 years.
Viruses, meaning strands of RNA or DNA, are also used by cells as an expensive but highly sophisticated form of information transfer.
The viruses which make multi-cellular creatures sick are essentially “rogue viruses” whose programming has been corrupted, either through accidental mutation, or as a form of cellular warfare.
Why haven’t we observed this before now? I predict that research will find that good viruses, used for beneficial information transfer between cells are fairly rare. Viruses, being strands of RNA or DNA, are extremely hard to detect and generally, they will not be produced in large quantities by healthy cells. In 2020, when bad-behaving viruses hijack the operation of millions of cells to produce billions of copies of the bad virus, the presence of the virus is usually inferred in humans using indirect means. With existing technology, we can only observe viruses with electron microscopes which makes detecting good viruses very hard.
Question: Why would cells use good viruses to communicate?
Answer: Why wouldn’t they? RNA/DNA is the most compact data storage system we have found in nature. Again and again, when we discover a new technology we have found that it is already being used in nature. To take one recently observed case, something like quantum entanglement is used by cells to make photosynthesis more efficient. We know that cells use DNA to store information about proteins and reproduction. It seems highly likely that they also use RNA/DNA as an information transfer mechanism with other cells.
Question: are viruses alive?
Answer: no, they created and used by living cells for their own purposes. This is why viruses seem to be so sophisticated, so “intentional”.