What form might the Beast referenced in Revelation take? What signs and wonders will the beast perform that people (including Christians) will worship it? I am going to look at this from a technological perspective because I do not believe the beast will perform anything that can only be explained as magic. Scientists the world over will attest to its technological marvel. The beast will only perform feats that can be explained with logic. I have included an image of a dependency chart that shows (among other things) how the beast might come about through technology.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke
I think there is a very good chance that the tools and methods of the beast will rely on one or more superintelligent, supercomputing systems. As I mentioned in another post, brain simulations should make it possible to reverse engineer and understand the human brain to such an extent that we can create optimal forms of computing intelligence that not only mimic the brightest humans but far exceed them in capability. So if we assume that the brain can be understood through simulations and that intelligence is not magic but totally explainable and reproducible in other forms, then superintelligent computers are inevitable. It is likely that governments would lock down and maintain exclusive control of such computers since they could be used as weapons. But how would governments use them?
The Biggest World Problems
Besides national security and intelligence gathering, the governments could use these computers to solve the biggest world problems:
- Hunger and thirst
- Corrupt governments
- Religious conflicts
- Climate change
- Security from crime and terrorism
It would quickly become clear that the computers can run our governments better than the politicians which would likely become figureheads. But of course, the largest most powerful governments would not want to simply turn over their power to superintelligent computers, so there would probably be multiple computers spread across the globe, and the figureheads would assume the role of appearing to control each of their respective computers.
But, how would these computers solve the above world problems? Poverty could be solved by Universal Basic Income. The engineering revolution that might result from autonomous engineering (AI engineers) could drive down the prices of autonomous farming technology to make large scale food production possible anywhere on Earth. Corrupt governments could be outsmarted and toppled by the vastly greater intelligence of the computers. Religions could be united under Transhumanism and the belief that we should not have to die. War could be a thing of the past as nations are truly united. And the technology to reverse climate change already exists – the computers would just have to give us the realizable plan to achieve it.
The last problem is important. Security from crime and terrorism. This could be achieved by ubiquitous drones and robots and through Universal Surveillance.
Drones, Robots and Universal Surveillance
In the US alone, $100 billion is spent per year on providing police protection. If we assume on a conservative level that $10 billion will be spent on drones and robots, how many will that buy us? It should be noted that $10 billion is less than a tenth of a percent of the US GDP, so it is not unrealistic at all that this much would be spent on something as important as our security.
A Roomba vacuum cleaner has a material and production cost of about $100, but the top models cost $700 or more. Most of this excess cost goes toward profit and paying for engineering and design time. As I have said before, there will likely be an Engineering Revolution when AI can engineer for us at the click of a button. The costs of most (if not all) technology could drop to its material and production cost. I think we might find that drones and robots will not cost much more than the material and production cost of a Roomba vacuum cleaner today – about $100. These devices could be very lightweight and energy-efficient. Most importantly, they could be loaded with sensors, cameras, and computing technology that is dirt cheap.
So, $10 billion can be estimated to buy us 100 million drones and robots. We are talking about a number of drones and robots on the order of the number of people. One robot per person. This could go a long way toward achieving Universal Surveillance, but there is an even better way. Since most security incidents are associated with people, why not shadow every person on Earth if it is possible. I believe that people might end up wearing smart headbands to achieve exactly this purpose. Why a headband? Because the headband could achieve more than just surveillance. It could be the smartphone of the future – a gateway between our brains and the Internet for Ubiquitous Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality applications. Everyone would probably already be wearing a headband, so why not attach some cameras to it and see what the person sees. The superintelligent computers would see and hear everything that every person on earth sees and hears.
But what about people who do not want to wear the high-tech smart headbands. Smart watches are already beginning to approach the level of technology in our smartphones. So, we would likely have two options when forced to wear the technology of the beast. A headband or a wristband. These technologies could be the mark of the beast. The technology could be smart enough to keep 24-hour watch ensuring that it is only you who wear it, and it could provide secure authentication to verify your identity to anyone else on Earth. This could easily be used to make payments for purchases. No one would be able to buy or sell without the technology unless they barter.
If superintelligence becomes possible in the coming decades and if supercomputers begin to resemble tanks and eventually reservoirs (to keep the advancement of computers on track with Moore’s law), then we will likely see the most powerful governments of the world build great man-made lakes to instantiate their own respective superintelligent systems. The superintelligences in these lakes will collectively watch the entire Earth through the devices we willingly wear on our heads or wrists. I do not claim to know this as fact. These are just predictions that attempt to align where technology is heading with what we can read about in the book of Revelation.