For thousands of years communications and technology have remained relatively uniform in the way it’s advanced. If you were to graph it, it was mostly linear. But in the 1800’s we saw a boom of communications and consequently a rapid outflow of innovations globally. The graph has now gone from linear to exponential… but what kinds of technologies are around the corner? How will those technologies affect us, and how could all of this relate to the return of Jesus, and the Tribulation that will precede his return?
AUDIO MESSAGE (30 Oct 2016)
This article aims to conduct a brief survey of the history of technology, as well as where it’s at today, and where things are moving, all within the context of what the bible says about the last days. Here are a few general dot points that describe where this article’s attention will be focused.
- Context – Daniel 12:4 (to and fro, knowledge will increase)
- A brief history of how things used to be (for millennia)
- How quickly things have changed
- Who changed them
- Where things are moving
- Practical Implications
- The power of the gospel
In Daniel 12 it says; “shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
Historical communications and transportation
Communication mediums for millennia have included face to face verbal communication, written materials transported via courier (e.g. animals – pigeons, or people on horseback), and other communication methods like signaling – e.g. the Beacon Towers on the great wall of China where Wood piles would be lit to warn of approaching danger.
These Beacon Towers are examples of Optical Telegraphs. Telegraphs in general constitute any long-distance transmission of textual or symbolic messaging and would include smoke signally, reflecting of light among other things.
In the last century, communications have accelerated exponentially, allowing knowledge to increase, thereby giving rise to faster transportation mechanisms, alongside countless innovations that have changed the world in ways never before seen.
Samuel Morse & Cyrus Westfield
Samuel Morse is the famous inventor of Morse code. But the story behind why isn’t as famous. In 1825, New York City had commissioned Morse to paint a portrait. As he was painting, a horse messenger delivered a letter from his father that read, “Your dear wife is convalescent”.
The very next day he received a letter from his father detailing his wife’s sudden death. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished. By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried.
Heartbroken that for days he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her death, he decided to explore a means of rapid long distance communication.
Later, an experimental 61 km telegraph line between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore was constructed along the rail line. In 1844, the message “What hath God wrought” was telegraphed. Later in 1858 Cyrus Westfield was able to communicate the first transatlantic telegraph message.
Both of these men were protestant believers.
It’s amazing how many innovations have come about by Christians.
What we’ve seen over the last century or so is a communications boom. The telegraph marked the beginning of what would eventually become the world-wide web aka. Internet. It’s literally a web of cables that run between cities, and under oceans connecting countries and people.
Over the course of just a few decades, the world went from messages unreliably taking days to deliver, to electromagnetic communications running across wires taking only minutes. Morse’s first messages were able to transmit 30 or so words per minute.
Where Things are moving
Now we can send messages across the world in milliseconds via Fiber Optic cables that run under Oceans. The Australian NBN (National Broadband Network) is basically upgraded cabling that allows data to pass faster than the copper cables that are being used at the moment.
But if that wasn’t fast enough, in 1935, Einstein, and a few other scientists published papers on a phenomenon known as ‘Quantum Entanglement’; which is the process of entangling subatomic particles (protons, electrons, atoms, photons), and measuring their physical properties like their position, momentum, spin and polarization.
Recently, experiments have been done that seem to suggest that the transfer of not just information, but particles and their state compositions can be teleported instantaneously. Communication can be made instant.
This kind of technology is still early, but the ramifications are huge.
A study published in the Nature Photonics Journal describes how they teleported the quantum state of a photon (a light particle), over 8.2km in the city of Calgary, Canada. Other experiments have been conducted that do the same thing over distances of 100’s of km’s between islands off the coast of Africa.
The climax of these technologies could allow Terabytes, Petabytes, even potentially Exabytes of information to be transmitted instantaneously from one location to another.
According to an online source; “in a world with a population of 3 billion, all information generated annually in any form would occupy a single exabyte. Supposedly, everything ever said by everyone who is or has lived on the planet Earth would take up 5 exabytes.”
While this kind of technology hasn’t advanced to this level yet (at least yet known to the public), given the exponential rate at which technologies have been advancing, we could see this over the next few decades (and possibly sooner). This opens up all kinds of possibilities for other technologies that are emerging, and with those possibilities all kinds of ramifications.
As a historical note to consider, the internet was used by the U.S. military beginning its initial development of packet networks in the 1960’s. Private connections emerged for public users around 1989 (like universities etc.), and all restrictions for the public’s use were removed in 1995, meaning – the government had this technology for 35 years since its inception before the public had full access to it.
In light of this – the kinds of advanced technology in the hands of governments, defense contractors etc., I believe is likely well in advance of what is known to the public. Well in advance.
We’ve seen some technological booms in our lives. One big one for me was the change from qwerty keyboard brick phones, to smart phones. This happened really quickly. Over the course of just a few years, basically everyone began using smart phones. The old ones still exist, but most people don’t use them.
Similarly, I believe there will soon be another jump from smart phones and laptops – to augmented reality devises.
Augmented Reality is still new, but it’s quickly becoming commercialized. With the rise of Microsoft’s HoloLens, and soon other technologies; Laptops, and mobile devices will soon be redundant, inefficient tools of the past.
Like all devices, it’s safe to say augmentation won’t always be big chunky headsets, but they will get smaller, and smaller and smaller.
Augmented headsets have the ability to project virtual holograms onto what you’re seeing in real life. Whether that be 3D projections of your University Lecturer and classmates in your living room, or Augmented monitors the size of your wall, all of this is already available now.
Imagine having a keyboard projected in from of you and a screen wherever you are. You wouldn’t need monitors, laptops, and even phones any more. You can augment all of that. The benefits of augmented technology far exceed the benefits the smartphones had over brick phones.
Brain Computer Interfaces
The University of Minnesota have developed technology that allows people to control remote helicopters with their brains. They are called Brain Computer Interfaces. This kind of technology is also still early, but it’s progressing quickly. Other universities have early stage experiments showing the ability to inject thoughts to control finger movement using similar technology.
Eventually – and this is a prediction, but I think it’s a likely one – augmented reality and brain computer interfaces will be the standard tools people use to perform tasks in day-to-day life. Whether it be driving, using GPS – you can think of our destination, maybe using activation words like – ‘Okay Google’ – which initiates the BCI, then you think your address, then the augmented map appears as you drive.
These interfaces would allow the user to write documents at thought speed, which of course far exceeds the motor skills of our fingers.
All kinds of new possibilities will emerge.
Human Nature & Technological Vulnerabilities
But with these possibilities, come risks. The temptation to adopt BCI’s will be strong because it will be hard to compete, and to be anywhere near as productive without one. While it’s normal now, when all your colleagues have one, and when they can push out work 5 times as fast (or more), competing may become hard.
The risks are that in adopting the tech, we’re exposing ourselves to thought injection.
We all know a day is coming where without the mark of the beast, we won’t be able to buy or sell.
Transhumanism is a belief system that has emerged from a naturalistic world view. It’s the belief that our current physical, and mental limitations can be transcended and overcome by our own innovations, merging human biology with computers, and interfacing with artificially intelligent devices.
Transhumanism isn’t uniform in its vision / trajectory – there are people who vary in the way they’d define it, and where they belief things will trend – but a prominent, heavily funded movement has emerged called ‘Russia 2045’ with the goal of completely transferring human consciousness to an artificial carrier, driven forward by highly intelligent and influential people and organizations (including, but not limited to the Director of Engineering for Google, Ray Kurzweil).
The Power of the Gospel
Given all of these events, technological changes, and bizarre trends emerging – God isn’t surprised, shocked or set back in any way. As believers, we have a sure, secure, certain hope of a coming resurrection. The world will get darker – but amidst it we will shine brighter. We are the light of the world, a city on a hill – we are the aroma of Christ. Things will get uncomfortable. We are called not to be unaware of the devil’s devices, but aware; wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves. Equipped and ready to give an answer for the reason we have hope, dressed and prepared – wearing the full armor of God, our lamps burning with plenty of oil awaiting the bridegroom to return.
We are on mission not to be of the world, only momentarily in it – realizing that we are sojourners, pilgrims, aliens, strangers passing through. As the steam of a kettle evaporates, so too is this life hear one moment, and gone the next. This isn’t our home. Our citizenship is in heaven; we are heavenly ambassadors for God’s kingdom. Let’s be sure not to hold too tightly to our lives here. We are hidden in Christ, seated with him in heavenly places.
Let’s keep our focus true and set on Jesus. We’re promised a time when buying and selling is not possible for us. The world is becoming more centralized, consolidated and unified – it’s tending towards global governance – but we know what’s ahead, the bible prepares us. The gospel is the power of God for salvation for anyone that beliefs.
Let’s hold fast to what matters. Let’s allow Gods word to dwell in us richly, and not get contaminated by worldly things that grieve Gods Spirit. Let’s take heed less we turn aside having preached ourselves. We know a time is coming… the Spirit expressly says; a time is coming when some will abandon the faith. Jesus tells us that the love of most will grow cold. Let’s not be among them, but remain as salt and light. Let’s be vigilant, aware, awake. Let’s not be the servant asleep when are master returns. Let’s abide in Christ, our priorities, time, possessions, relationships are his. Let’s present ourselves as living sacrifices, Holy and pleasing to God.
God’s calling on you is immense, important, impactful and powerful. He can use you in a way that exceeds your own strategic faculties. But he works through your weakness, your yielding, your abandoning of self, and as you present it all to him to be used. You have gifting’s, talents and abilities that God will use, if you don’t just confess him as Lord, but treat him as Lord.
Time is short, relationships need restoring, souls need saving, lives’ need to be discipled. Let’s be about our Fathers business!