Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Is Skynet the Antichrist?

13 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:

10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
    to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
    with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666 (Rev 13).

The identity of the Antichrist and/or the Beast and the False Prophet exerts enduring fascination among Christians. The  candidates depend on the reader's own place in the course of church history. As we move forward into the future, certain candidates are eliminated while new candidates present themselves. As some candidates move into the past, it's too late for them to be viable candidates. For a medieval Christian, there were different candidates than for a modern-day Christian.

When I was a kid, I saw a movie, set in the Cold War, about two doomsday machines that take over the world: Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970). This idea was further popularized by The Terminator franchise. 

That was science fiction. But computers increasingly control our lives in a hitech civilization. And that can be very convenient so long was we control the computers. 

Recently there were sensational headlines about Facebook shutting down chatbots after they invented their own language. That may have been hyped.

However, A.I. needn't be a realistic prospect to lose control. If computers "talking" to each other do invent their own language, which humans can't understand, then couldn't things get out of hand in a hurry? Computers needn't be intelligent to do that. They just need to have adaptive software with learning cycles. 

If we don't know what computers are telling each other–computers which regulate so many critical aspects of a hitch civilization–then won't computers become highly unpredictable? What happens if computers run amok–not because they're malicious, but have simply taken on a life of their own (as it were)? Even if we still have the off-switch, that's a dilemma if you can't shut down a computer network without shutting down everything that depends on a computer network. You have so many interconnected systems in a hitech society. So much coordination and synchronization. If it breaks down, there's a cascade effect. 

Anyway, I said that to say this: suppose the Antichrist or Beast/False prophet will be a rogue computer network? Civilization will be at the mercy of this inscrutable, inhumane machine. 

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