Artificial Intelligence, Computer Chips and the End Times

As his prophetic book concluded, Daniel was informed by a majestic angel that at the end of time “knowledge shall increase” (Dan. 12:4). The exact details of this explosion of knowledge in the end times were not given by the angel. What we do know is that, as time goes by, information is expanding at a rate that no one can keep up with it. A technically informed person recently said that around the time of World War 2, knowledge doubled about every 25 years; and now, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) it doubles every 12 hours. While it is hard to confirm or deny this, it is nevertheless clear to everyone that knowledge is increasing at a speed that the average person simply cannot grasp. There has never been a time like this in all of human history. Mankind is entering new territory.

Artificial Intelligence—Amazing and Frightening. AI is seen today as a great boon to mankind, but warnings are also being heard from those who understand AI. The warning is that there is a very real danger with this amazing technology. AI has been around for decades and its presence is widely experienced. Today, AI can think far faster than people can and are able to “learn”, coming up with things that humans never thought of. Mankind benefits today with AI changing business approaches, making medical breakthroughs, processing language, countering cyber-crime, making self-driving vehicles, advancing image recognition and so many more innovations. But numerous individuals, such as Dr. Geoffrey Hinton (the “godfather of AI”), are now issuing warnings about AI. They point out that digital intelligence is rapidly becoming better than our biological intelligence, and the potential is there that it will soon pass and take over human intelligence. The concern is that there is no present solution to steer or control AI if a system goes rogue. Some say that mankind has just a few years (with 2030 as the outside limit) to figure this out. The fear is that AI will begin to control human society through such things as disinformation, controlling access to resources and opportunities, and powerful new weapons. And while it might be nice to have our AI coffee maker brew our coffee consistently the way we like it, the harsh reality is that it is likely in the future that AI may become far more malevolent. It is being said that the one who controls AI, controls the world. In some ways, it is like the internet, which has brought some wonderful realities into our lives, while at the same time bringing terrible fraud, immorality and criminality into our lives. There is a growing concern among those in the know about AI that the next few years will bring irreversible damage to humankind. What is clear is that the world is going to change dramatically in the very near future. Apparently, man won’t have to wait too long for this.   

Satan’s Coming Wonders and Deceptions. Does all of this impact the future as laid out in the Scriptures? Satan’s miraculous demonstrations and breathtaking deceptions during the Tribulation are beyond dispute. Jesus declared that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matt. 24:24). In this succinct statement, two basic facts are given. First, these signs and wonders are “great”. Jesus, who infrequently used descriptive words like this, was indicating that these supernatural acts are far beyond Satan’s usual activities. It will be a unique time. The second fact is that they will be very deceptive, so that even God’s elect would be fooled by them (if they were not protected by the Lord). It is highly likely that this indicates that these miraculous acts will be closely resembling the kinds of miracles that Jesus Himself performed during His earthly ministry. Disinformation of some kind.

The Apostles agree with Jesus’ statement. Paul, in speaking of the Antichrist, says that his satanic connection is clear (2 Thess. 2:9-10). Antichrist “with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness” will execute Satan’s program. Several words to observe. “All power” is granted to the Antichrist which strongly suggests that God is going to allow certain satanic miracles that are unprecedented to take place. In other words, this will be a unique period of previously unseen satanic supernaturalism. Another word to note is “false” wonders. This does not mean that these are tricks or some kind of slight-of-hand. These are genuine miracles that lead into that which is false; something Jesus saw coming.

 Another apostle, John, declared that “the dragon (Satan) gave him (Antichrist) his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev, 13:2). Again, the Scriptures declare that immense satanic power is given to the Antichrist. Whatever God is going to allow Satan to do, will be passed along to Satan’s two key minions, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. John is the first and only one to reveal the end time individual known as the “false prophet” (Rev. 13:11-18; 20:10). He is a religious figure that will receive miraculous powers. His amazing activities are revealed by the apostle John.

“And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast (Antichrist), telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” (Revelation 13:14-15).

This unique portion of scripture unveils an end of days phenomenon; that of an animated “image” of the Antichrist. Clearly demonic deception and empowerment is seen. Ten times in this final section of Revelation, this strange, but deadly, image is mentioned, which will plague the world during the second half of the Tribulation. The image has the ability to know who does not worship the Antichrist and will then put them to death. It is the False Prophet that brings the image to life. How he does this is not detailed by John. However, the kind of worldwide activity and control that is described opens up the possibility of the use and involvement of Artificial Intelligence. This sounds so “science fiction”, but this strange image is scriptural fact.

Revelation 13 also reveals that the False Prophet is the one who will institute  the well-known “666”, the mark of the beast. It will be something that is placed on individuals which will allow them to buy and sell, and apparently will also be important in the worshipping of the Antichrist. This has caused many to suggest that computer chips may be used. It does seem that Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet could well use this technology for their deceptive and evil purposes. In the future, however, it may turn out that technology has gone far beyond computer chips imbedded in or on people to things yet unknown.

God’s Tribulation Activity. At this point, there needs to be some clarity given. God will not need to employ advanced technology to accomplish His purposes in the Tribulation period, and likely will not use it. One of the major challenges for those who interpret biblical prophecy is to keep separate “what” God is going to do, from “how” He is going to do it. The interpreter must always keep in mind that the emphasis of scripture is on what God will do. And the interpreter must remember that God’s primary purpose of this end time period of Tribulation is to bring Israel, and then many gentiles, to faith in Himself. To do that, it is His hand that must be clearly seen. As an example: when 1/3 of the earth is seen being burned up (Rev. 8:7), the interpreter must resist the temptation to say that it is nuclear war that is in view. When this (and other activities) take place, we really do not know “how” God will do it. But those experiencing 1/3 of the earth being burned will know that it is God that is doing it, and not some crazed leader of North Korea or Iran. Remember, if God had chosen to bring this age to an end in 1723 or 1823, when modern technology did not exist, He somehow would have managed to fulfill exactly all that which Revelation talks about. And the interpreter ought to be aware that should the Lord put off the end times for another 50 years, we probably cannot imagine where man’s technology will be. Therefore, we need to take care about saying “this is how God will do it.” It would seem that God does not need computer chips and artificial intelligence to accomplish His goals of saving multitudes of people and judging sinful men and nations. When the end times come, mankind will curse God (cf. Rev. 16:9, 11, 21) but will come away knowing that the Sovereign God controls this universe. 

Our Response. We can be absolutely sure that the Lord our God will accomplish everything that He said He would do. He will save multitudes of people. He will shepherd His people into the rich blessings of Jesus’ kingdom. He who is far smarter than any artificial intelligence, can be counted on to fulfill every promise to His own. 

Our response today must be on serving Him faithfully in whatever place He has put us. We don’t know the exact future of all this technology, but we do know the One who is greater than AI. Fearing the future is not a biblical option for the follower of Jesus Christ. His plan is precise and His program will be fulfilled to His glory, and to the benefit of His people. Our culture might worship technology, but we worship the One who is greater than any technology that the creature can construct.