I had a rather outlandish concept I thought I'd share.
I though of a data stream network. Its intelligence lies in rapid circulation of a data stream amongst a (varying) set of peers. This stream comprises packets, with some sort of informational benefit to its hosts. However, within the packets is some extra functionality that can be independent of that host-directed functionality. This is a sort of distributed network: each packet contains a part of the information that comprises the overarching functionality. As well as header information that flags a packet's place in the puzzle, timestamps indicates prioritance, so that a stray packet can be superceded by a more recent version of the same. Those timestamps have to be sufficiently complex not to be broken by the peers exchanging the packets.
It's possible the simplest super-functionality could be a sort of cockroach-like life. Perhaps - unfortunately - this description best suits a form of malware.
Born of a sudden thought. Quite plausible something like it has been done before. What are the applications/boundaries of this concept? Ideas welcome.