Deus ex Machina
By Pete Garcia
Here in the spring of 2017, we often have difficulty reconciling the prophetic pages of Holy Scripture with the reality of what we see daily in the news. We wonder what exactly that final world government, final world religion, and final world leader will look like. Much speculation has been put forth recommending this person or that religion, with supposed proof texts both from secular and scriptural sources, but the truth is, we will not know until it happens. But two instances will absolutely force an immediate change in the world. The first is the Rapture of the Church. The second is the final world system.
The Rapture of the Church
As most Christian watchers are already aware, we cannot know the day or hour of Christ’s return. But we also know that we should be cognizant of the season of His return. The Apostle Paul writes but of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:1-2 NKJV). That word ‘perfectly’ in the Greek is “akribōs,” and it means exactly, accurately, and diligently. The Prophet Jeremiah uses that same form of the word perfectly in Hebrew when writing chapter 23 verse 20 saying: The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has executed and performed the thoughts of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly.
So Paul was saying that we would know exactly that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. That might appear somewhat paradoxical at first, but then Paul gives some additional clues that shed light on the context.
For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (1 Thess. 5:3-4)
I believe that the Apostle Paul here is delineating between the time before the Tribulation (70th Week) and the time just shortly after. This cannot be speaking of the 2nd Coming of Christ (Rev. 19), because that entire period preceding it, is wracked with massive turmoil, upheaval, and supernaturally violent judgments. In other words, 1st Thessalonians 5:1-4 can’t be speaking of the 2nd Coming because Paul states here that it would be like a thief in the night, which parallels what Christ had previously declared that no man could know the day or hour. How can it be like a thief in the night, when the Tribulation is marked out exactly to equal seven prophetic years of 360 day years, marked each by 12, 30 day months? (Daniel 7:25, 9:24, 12:11-12; Matt. 24:15; Rev. 11:2-3, 13:5)
Aside from the obvious benefits believers will experience at the moment of the Rapture, is the momentous transition the world will be thrust into in a matter of seconds just after the fact. The Rapture will be the ultimate black swan event, because most of the world’s population either does not think it will happen, does not think it can happen, or does not care. What we as watchers don’t know, is how long that transition point will be, between the moment after the Rapture occurs, and the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week (aka…the Tribulation). Everything at this time is speculation. It seems unlikely that the Tribulation will begin immediately after the moment of the Rapture. The reason for this is that the Rapture will by necessity, trigger a series of crisis points in just about every sector of human life; these need to be drawn into the final world system.
The Beast System
The New Latin term deus ex machina is a translation of a Greek phrase and means literally “a god from a machine.” “Machine,” in this case, refers to the crane that held a god over the stage in ancient Greek and Roman drama. The practice of introducing a god at the end of a play to unravel and resolve the plot dates from at least the 5th century B.C.; Euripides (circa 484-406 B.C.) was one playwright who made frequent use of the device. Since the late 1600s, “deus ex machina” has been applied in English to unlikely saviors and improbable events that bring order out of chaos in sudden and surprising ways. (Merriam-Webster)
The current rate of technological advancements is that computing power is doubling every 24 months. Computer efficiency is doubling every 18 months. Because of this, men like Elon Musk (businessman/futurist) fears that artificial intelligence (AI) will gain self-awareness and take over the world soon. In his view, the only way to counter this threat is to enhance humans to the point at which we equal with AI.
“If you assume any rate of advancement in [artificial intelligence], we will be left behind by a lot,” he said at a conference last June. The solution he proposed was a “direct cortical interface”—essentially a layer of artificial intelligence inside the brain—that could enable humans to reach higher levels of function. (Winkler, 2017)
Essentially, we have to bioengineer technology into the human body if we are going to be able to compete with a fully autonomous AI system. So if you think back thirty years ago, the idea of embedding computers into the human brain seemed ludicrous. If we think back twenty years ago, this still seemed impossible. If you think back ten years ago, this seemed improbable, but potentially becoming feasible. Today it not only seems feasible and probable, now it seems inevitable given our dependency on cyber networks, digital currency, and the rapid integration of the internet of things. Still, Mr. Musk recognizes that-
The technology faces several barriers. Scientists must find a safe, minimally invasive way to implant the electrodes, and a way to keep them stable in the brain. It also isn’t yet possible to record the activity of millions of the brain’s neurons to decode complex decisions, or distinguish when someone wants to eat a bowl of spaghetti or go to the bathroom. Then there is persuading people to get elective brain surgery. In comments published by Vanity Fair on Sunday, Mr. Musk said “for a meaningful partial-brain interface, I think we’re roughly four or five years away.” (Winkler, 2017)
But it is not just Mr. Musk who is diligently seeking this new endeavor of modifying the human brain. Facebook, Google, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are amongst the American entities pouring hundreds of millions of dollars along with harnessing some of the greatest researchers into doing just that.
The program, Neural Engineering System Design (NESD), stands to dramatically enhance research capabilities in neurotechnology and provide a foundation for new therapies. “Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem,” said Phillip Alvelda, the NESD program manager. “Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics.” (DARPA, 2016)
Even still, DARPA was not doing this in a vacuum. It would seem that this endeavor was given the full ‘two thumbs up’ by the former administration known as the BRAIN initiative, which began back in 2013.
“If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas… Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy… Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s… Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.” – President Barack Obama, 2013 State of the Union (Office of the Press Secretary, 2013)
What the nuclear arms race did for us in the 20th century, the race for and against artificial intelligence will do for us in the 21st. All the aforementioned quotes were simply to point out one inescapable fact-that while we go to work, pay our bills, live our lives, and watch and wait for the Lord to return, the world is pressing full steam ahead to make artificial intelligence a reality. Simultaneously, there are those who recognize the potential threat AI could present and are racing with equal fervor to get that technology into the human brain so as to enhance man into the next phase of our “evolution.” Mankind will not experience that AI “breakthrough” moment until man cracks the code on quantum computing, which will fundamentally revolutionize the way information is processed. Although we are close, there is still that almost supernatural barrier preventing mankind from fully capitalizing on it. In fact, we are very close:
Google announced a breakthrough in the field of quantum computing Wednesday. The company thinks it’s found a quantum algorithm that solves problems 100 million times faster than conventional processes. If confirmed, this discovery could not only lead to iRobot-style artificial intelligence but also advance the US space program by light years. (Tarantola, 2015)
If there is any correlation between the nuclear arms race and the artificial intelligence race, it is that time between breakthroughs rapidly increases. Nine years before the Manhattan Project, a Jewish-Hungarian scientist named Leó Szilárd discovers the nuclear chain reaction. By 1939, the Nazi’s began their German Nuclear Energy Project. From there, if you look at the natural progression and timing of events for the production of the first atomic bomb, the only constant is the frequency and intensity of the sequence of events. These are just the highlights!
1942: Manhattan Project begins
1945: First test of the nuclear (Atom) bomb near Alamogordo, New Mexico
1945: (August 6th and 9th)-Little Boy and Fat Man dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan
1949: Russians conduct first atomic test “First Lightning”
1952: US test first fusion bomb Ivy Mike
1952: British test first nuclear bomb
1953: Russians test first hydrogen bomb
1954: US test first deliverable thermonuclear weapon at Bikini Atoll, code named Castle Bravo
In just 12 years, we went from the concept phase to three nations have nuclear weapon capabilities. The next decade, an additional three nations develop nuclear weapons as well as the US and Russia creating increasingly more devastating forms of nuclear weaponry. The difference between the nuclear arms race and the current artificial intelligence race is that whoever successfully and operationally develops AI first (which is predicated on successfully integrating quantum computing into it) is the winner. When I mean winner, I mean that AI, either out of self-preservation or at the behest of its governmental representation, will by default take every other system offline so as not to be challenged by any other form of AI. Where a nuclear exchange between the US and USSR was viewed as a zero-sum game, the AI race will become a winner-takes-all scenario.
The first nation to bring AI online is the winner because that system can take over every other system out there. Anything connected to the World Wide Web, or is connected to a cyber interface, is fair game. For the purpose of this article, I’ll just refer to this final system as The Beast. The Beast could take over other nations power grids (if they are connected online) and shut them all down in a matter of seconds. It could launch a nation’s missiles against itself, or blow them in place. The Beast could take over ships, planes, defense systems, and economic systems offline in minutes. As connected to the internet as this world currently is, there really isn’t anywhere or anything anyone can do in the industrialized nations but submit to its authority. That is why this race has so much riding on it. Hence, why nations are spending insane amounts of time, energy, and money trying to be the first.
While the ancient Greeks may have had a rudimentary understanding of “a god from a machine” (Deus ex machina), Satan most likely didn’t. I believe he recognized the potential early on in its ability to solve, unsolvable problems. What he lacked was omniscience and that God’s agenda was to send forth His Son (Jesus) to become God in the Flesh, die for mankind’s sins, and then be raised from the dead on the third day. By doing this, Jesus was now able to build a universal body of believers known as the Church. He keeps them entirely by the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, who acts both as a teacher/mentor as well as a Guarantee, sealing us as a purchase of His until the Day of our Redemption-the Rapture. (2 Cor. 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-15, 4:5).
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. Revelation 13:15-18
The irony of this Greek tragedy is that the supposed mechanism of man’s deliverance becomes the ultimate instrument of his enslavement. While mankind races recklessly forward trying to correct a perceived disadvantage humans have against artificial intelligence, they are doing this by introducing the very same technology into the human body that the Beast will one day use to extend his dynamic control over every person who has it installed. This is what believers know to be “the mark of the beast.” Given what Scripture says about this final man (the Antichrist), it is unlikely the United States wins this race (Dan. 9:26-27). This, along with the supernatural backing by the ruler of this planet (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19), is how the final system comes to control over the entire world.
Even So, Maranatha!