Volume 42 Issue Five May 2023
Last Trumpet Ministries · PO Box 806 · Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Phone: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” I Cor. 14:8
The Technology Of The Last Days
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
II Thessalonians 2:3-4
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
I Thessalonians 4:16-17
I am part of the first generation to grow up with easily accessible technology. As a small child, I watched in awe as my father, Pastor David J. Meyer, used his Apple Macintosh computer to write the Last Trumpet Newsletter. As the years passed, he purchased new computers with each one being more advanced than the last. I first went online at age 14, and I purchased my first personal computer at age 16. A short time later, I began building computer systems from scratch. It was during this time that the Internet really began to transform the world.
Slowly but surely, the Internet went from a novelty to a convenience, and then to a necessity. In its current iteration, the Internet impacts nearly every facet of our lives. Schoolchildren use it to complete their assignments. Businesses use it to communicate and manage human resources. Restaurants use it to process credit card transactions and receive online orders. It has reached the point where you cannot so much as order a cheeseburger without interfacing with the online infrastructure. People all over the world go online to read books, listen to music, watch television, play video games, and participate in social media. Adults go online to pay bills, perform banking tasks, and file their income tax returns.
Remarkably, exposure to the Internet begins in infancy for many people. A 2020 study published by Pew Research found that 67 percent of parents said they allow their children under the age of eleven to use tablet computers, while 60 percent said they allow their children to use smartphones. Amongst children two years old and younger, 35 percent use tablet computers, and 49 percent use smartphones. (1) In many cases, these devices function as a sort of babysitter for young children to calm them down and occupy their minds when they are bored or upset. However, an article published by U.S. News and World Report warns in its headline, “Using Devices as Babysitters Can Backfire on Parents.” The article quotes Dr. Jenny Radesky who is a behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan’s Health Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. “If a child is upset and has big emotions, and you hand over a smartphone or tablet to distract them, it may keep the peace in the moment, but if this is the main way you soothe your child, it will be a setback in the long run,” she said. The doctor claims that children who rely on devices to calm down are unable to properly understand and control their emotions. (2)
The addictive nature of the Internet has only worsened with the advent of smartphones. Now we can all put miniature computers in our pockets. A report published by BBC News on April 3, 2023, claims that heavy smartphone usage is rewiring our brains. “Sometimes, I'll leave it at the other end of the house, or turn it off, to use it less,” writes the article’s author, Amanda Ruggeri. “But, sooner than I'd like to admit, I'll wind up walking down the hallway for something I need to do that I can only – or can do more efficiently – by phone. Paying a bill? Phone. Arranging a coffee date with a friend? Phone. Messaging family who live far away? Phone. Checking the weather, jotting down a story idea, taking a picture or video, creating a photo book, listening to a podcast, loading up driving directions, making a quick calculation, even turning on a torch? Phone, phone, phone.” (3)
If you are from the Baby Boomer generation or Generation X, you are old enough to remember what the world was like before the Internet became an all-encompassing ubiquitous technology. However, it is unlikely that younger Millennials and those who belong to Generation Z could fathom a world without the Internet because the Internet is something they have always had. Yet, as much as the Internet has changed the world and how we live, the next big technology could change the world in even more profound ways.
The Next Big Technology
Although it has long been the fodder of science fiction movies and books, artificial intelligence, or AI, has already become a reality in our modern world. A recent piece broadcasted by the CBS News program 60 Minutes featured an in-depth profile on the ascent of AI. Sundar Pichai, who is the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., told 60 Minutes anchor Scott Pelley that AI is going to have a profound impact on our way of life, including the way we work. “This is going to impact every product across every company and so that’s why I think it’s a very profound technology. And so, we are just in early days,” Pichai said. (4) James Manyika, an AI expert at Google, also added his insight. “AI has the potential to change many ways in which we’ve thought about society, about what we’re able to do, the problems we can solve,” he opined. He further went on to say, “There are some job occupations that’ll start to decline over time. There are also new job categories that’ll grow over time. But the biggest change will be the jobs that’ll be changed. Something like more than two-thirds will have their definitions change. Not go away, but change. Because they’re now being assisted by AI and by automation.” (5) A report from the famous investment bank known as Goldman Sachs estimates that three hundred million jobs will be impacted by AI in the coming months and years. (6)
ChatGPT, the online artificial intelligence service developed by a company known as OpenAI, is already changing the way people work. With just a short text prompt, you can ask ChatGPT to write almost anything for you. Students have used it to complete essays. Clergy members have used it to compose sermons. Now workers are taking advantage of the AI’s efficiency, too. In a recent piece published by Vice, it was revealed that some employees are using ChatGPT to do their jobs for them. “That’s the only reason I got my job this year,” said one worker. “ChatGPT does like 80 percent of my job if I’m being honest.” Another worker quoted in the report claims that ChatGPT allows him to hold down four jobs at once. “I think five would probably just be overkill,” he admitted. (7) These workers, who sometimes refer to themselves as “the overemployed,” fully realize that they are taking advantage of a brief window of opportunity. Once companies realize that much of the work needed can be accomplished with AI, there will be no need to employ as many people.
It should be noted that artificial intelligence can do more than just write content with startling efficiency. Image-generating AI has also become popular in recent days. These systems are so advanced that you can simply describe what you are looking for, and a custom image will be produced for you on the fly. For example, if you ask for a photograph of an elephant eating a pepperoni pizza, AI can make the image for you.
Remarkably, a German artist by the name of Boris Eldagsen recently submitted a photograph to the Sony World Photography Awards. His unique composition features a portrait of two women from different generations that BBC News described as “haunting.” The catch? His photo was not really a genuine photo at all, but rather an image generated with artificial intelligence. After his “photo” was selected as a winner by the judges, the artist revealed the true source of the work and declined to accept the award. Speaking of the image he submitted, Eldagsen said, “Something about this doesn’t feel right, does it?” The artist was also quoted as saying, “AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept this award.” (8) It is alarming that professional judges at a word-renowned photography competition could be deceived by artificial intelligence.
The Sinister Side Of AI
As people gradually become acquainted with artificial intelligence, many folks are enjoying the perceived benefits of the technology. But is there a sinister side to AI? The aforementioned CEO of Alphabet, Inc., Sundar Pichai, admitted to news anchor Scott Pelley that AI is more than capable of producing convincing fake videos. “It will be possible with AI to create – you know, a video easily. Where it could be Scott saying something, or me saying something, and we never said that. And it could look accurate. But you know, on a societal scale, you know, it can cause a lot of harm.” (9) According to a report by the Associated Press, AI even enables nefarious users to generate pornographic videos portraying anyone they desire engaged in filthy acts. The videos are called deepfakes, and even though the events shown in the videos never really happened, they look convincing. “The reality is that the technology will continue to proliferate, will continue to develop, and will continue to become sort of as easy as pushing the button. And as long as that happens, people will undoubtedly… continue to misuse that technology to harm others, primarily through sexual violence, deepfake pornography, and fake nude images,” said Adam Dodge, an expert on technology-enabled abuse. (10)
The sad reality is that in a world with easily accessible artificial intelligence, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what is real and what is not. The images and videos that are plastered all over the Internet and on television could be entirely fake and most people wouldn’t even know. Furthermore, AI is becoming increasingly relied upon to produce writing projects, and it is likely already being used by the news media to some extent. Yet, developers have admitted that AI chatbots aren’t always accurate. In fact, Google recently released a new AI chatbot that they call Bard. However, many Google employees were unhappy that their company seemed to be rushing this product to market in an effort to compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. As Google prepared to launch Bard, an employee wrote an internal message that said, “Bard is worse than useless: please do not launch.” Another Google employee claims that Bard is “a pathological liar.” (11)
There is growing concern amongst scientists regarding the destructive potential of artificial intelligence. A survey conducted by the Institute for Human-Centered AI at Stanford University found that 36 percent of researchers believe AI could cause a “nuclear-level catastrophe.” (12) In another development, some of the world’s brightest minds joined together and signed an open letter urging all research on advanced AI to cease immediately for six months. “AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can pose profound risks to society and humanity, as shown by extensive research and acknowledged by top AI labs,” the letter begins. It then elaborates further, “As stated in the widely-endorsed Asilomar AI Principles, ‘Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.’ Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control.” The letter was signed by Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, former American Presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, Siri designer Tom Gruber, and thousands of other individuals. (13) Many of these people are not only experts in the technology field, but they’re also considered to be some of the smartest people in the world. The fact that so many of them are warning us about the dangers of AI should give all of us pause.
For his part, Eliezer Yudkowsky, who is the lead researcher at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, claims the letter does not go far enough, and he is instead calling for a complete and indefinite cessation of advanced artificial intelligence development. In a piece published by Time Magazine, Yudkowsky wrote, “Many researchers steeped in these issues, including myself, expect that the most likely result of building a superhumanly smart AI, under anything remotely like the current circumstances, is that literally everyone on earth will die. Not as in, ‘maybe possibly some remote chance,’ but as in ‘that is the obvious thing that would happen.” (14)
The good news is that God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that humanity will still exist during the end times. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Revelation 1:7 further informs “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Finally, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 emphatically declares, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
A New Religion
As artificial intelligence continues to advance, a growing number of people are awestruck by its capabilities. Recent news reports suggest that this trend could lead to the formation of a new type of religion in which artificial intelligence is worshipped as a god. A piece published by The Conversation on March 15, 2023, starts by declaring, “We are about to witness the birth of a new kind of religion. In the next few years, or perhaps even months, we will see the emergence of sects devoted to the worship of artificial intelligence.” The report later goes on to say, “As these chatbots come to be used by billions of people, it is inevitable that some of these users will see the AIs as higher beings. We must prepare for the implications.” The report further goes on to give five reasons why people will worship AI. “1. It displays a level of intelligence that goes beyond that of most humans. Indeed, it’s knowledge appears limitless. 2. It is capable of great feats of creativity. It can write poetry, compose music, and generate art in almost any style, close to instantaneously. 3. It is removed from normal human concerns and needs. It does not suffer physical pain, hunger, or sexual desire. 4. It can offer guidance to people in their daily lives. 5. It is immortal.” (15) Another article with the headline, “The Radical Movement to Worship AI as a New God” was published by The Daily Beast on February 26, 2023. Beth Singler, who is a digital anthropologist and assistant professor in digital religion, was quoted as saying, “There’s a whole kind of gamut of religious responses to AI. With ChatGPT we’re seeing not only deification, but also users are responding to ChatGPT almost as an oracle or a connector to the gods.” (16)
It should be noted that chatbots and AIs have gained their knowledge by reading the works of human beings. In fact, they learned much of what they know by reading the Internet. Thus, the source of their knowledge is humanity. Artificial intelligence did not just happen on its own. It was developed by man. As such, we see humanity attempting to create a god in their own image.
In II Thessalonians 2:3-4, we are warned of an evil being who will come to the scene to manipulate and influence the masses. These verses tell us, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The “man of sin” spoken of by the Apostle Paul is often referred to as the Antichrist. I strongly suspect that when this treacherous being does surface, he will use artificial intelligence to perform signs and wonders.
These are only the early days of artificial intelligence. We can only guess what this world might look like in fifty years if we’re still here. History does show, however, that humanity has a propensity to use innovation for evil purposes. The printing press changed the world forever, and before long, man began using it for evil. Television changed the world, too, and is often used for evil. The Internet transformed and connected the entire world, and sadly, more often than not, it is used for evil. It is a safe guess that AI will be used for evil, too. However, Romans, chapter 12, ends with a simple principle that we all can embrace: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” By the grace of God, we will overcome the wickedness of this world and reflect the goodness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World. If you have not yet repented of your sins and dedicated your life to God, I urge you to do so now.
Thank you for your kind support of this newsletter. As always, we invite you to send us your prayer requests. Each request is always given individual attention. We know that nothing is impossible with God. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Samuel David Meyer
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01. Pew Research Center, July 28, 2020, By Brooke Auxier, Monica Anderson, Andrew Perrin, and Erica Turner, http://pewresearch.org.
02. US News and World Report, December 12, 2022, By Healthday, http://usnews.com.
03. BBC News, April 3, 2023, By Amanda Ruggeri, http://bbc.com.
04. CBS News, April 16, 2023, By Scott Pelley, http://cbsnews.com.
06. CNBC, March 28, 2023, By Sophie Kiderlin, http://cnbc.com.
07. Vice, April 12, 2023, By Maxwell Strachan, http://vice.com.
08. BBC News, April 18, 2023, By Paul Glynn, http://bbc.com.
09. CBS News, April 16, 2023, By Scott Pelley, http://cbsnews.com.
10. Associated Press, April 16, 2023, By Haleluya Hadero, http://apnews.com.
11. Bloomberg, April 19, 2023, By Davey Alba and Julia Love, http://bloomberg.com.
12. Futurism, April 13, 2023, By Maggie Harrison, http://futurism.com.
13. Future of Life Institute, March 22, 2023, http://futureoflife.org.
14. Time Magazine, March 29, 2023, By Eliezer Yudkowsky, http://time.com.
15. The Conversation, March 15, 2023, By Neil McArthur, http://theconversation.com.
16. The Daily Beast, February 26, 2023, By Tony Ho Tran, http://thedailybeast.com.
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