All around the world, governments, companies, and universities are rushing to develop usable micro-UAV platforms for various purposes, some benevolent, some not so benevolent. UAVs – or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles -- have been around for decades, but in recent times they have become more widespread, for example, now accounting for one in three aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory. And that’s just the aircraft-sized drones.
The push today is to reduce the size and weight of UAVs to that of insects. Not only would such micro-UAVs be difficult to detect, they could be massed produced without limit, creating a formidable threat if used en masse with communications technology that would let them be deployed in swarms.
Both are hot research topics.
There has been some success in miniaturization, to the point that you can buy a miniature quad-copter for yourself for just $39.95. University laboratories have produced even more impressive prototypes, but none have all the properties needed to deploy them in swarms.
That’s why some researchers are investigating electrical-biological hybrids, that is, using real insects as the aerodynamic vehicle and adding electrodes (electrical interfaces) or optodes (optical interfaces) to control their motions via an electronics “backpack.” Sounds like something out of science fiction, but it’s true.
Researchers cite numerous beneficial uses of such cyborg insects such as scientific research, environmental monitoring, and even pollination of plants. But these devices could and probably will be used for more deadly activities, such as human tracking, crowd monitoring, or biological warfare. A cyborg insect capable of carrying plant pollen is just as capable of carrying a few drops of ebola or some other biological or chemical agent.
But as devastating as a few such cyborg insects could be, image the horror of having them appear in swarms. And that’s another area of active research: developing the command, control, and communications technology to allow hundreds or thousands of these micro-UAVs to act together as a collective against an adversary. It’s one thing to be stung by one bee; imagine being stung by hundreds!
THE LOCUST SWARMS OF REVELATION
Everything you’ve just read should sound familiar to students of Biblical prophecy. We find insect swarms described throughout scripture: as one of the plagues of Egypt described in Exodus, in the prophecy of Joel, and in the book of Revelation. By all accounts the Exodus plague seems to be a natural one, but the other two have apocalyptic undertones, especially the one in Revelation.
When the apostle John wrote Revelation, he used many monstrous creatures (beasts) as vivid imagery of what was to happen in the Day of the Lord and Great Tribulation, but he saved his most detailed descriptions for the locust swarm in chapter 9: locusts with great power like scorpions, but not insect locusts to devour vegetation (which was forbidden to these “locusts”). Rather, they were to torment those who had not been sealed by God in their foreheads, initiating such a horrible fate on them that the victims would seek death.
These “locusts” appear to be militarized, “prepared unto battle”, armored, noisy, carrying a “payload” like a scorpion sting.
Which brings me back to the swarms of cyborg-insects that various governments are currently developing. If deployed for military use, these insect swarms would be formidable weapons. They are certain to be militarized and armored, and they would undoubtedly carry a payload of some kind. A drop or two of a chemical or biological agent maybe? All you’d have to do is program the “insects” to strike their victims’ bare skin – in their foreheads? – and voila: instant plague, instant disease, instant incapacitation.
EXAMPLES FROM TODAY’S HEADLINES
Does this sound far-fetched?
It didn’t sound far-fetched to Hamas, who accused Israel of embedding cyborg-insects into the natural locust plague of 2013 for surveillance purposes.
Draper and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) are collaborating to create a cybernetic dragonfly with a genetically modified nervous system that can respond to pulses of light from a tiny backpack that the insects can carry.
Researchers at North Carolina State University are developing “cyborg cockroaches” along similar lines to the Draper-HHMI work.
In Israel, Tel Aviv University and Ort Braude College are developing a “locust-like” drone that could be mass produced for less than $100 each.
The U.S. Navy has a drone swarming program called L.O.C.U.S.T. for Low Cost UAV Swarming Technology. (Apparently, someone in the Navy is familiar with Bible prophecy!)
The Navy has recently demonstrated the world’s largest airborne drone swarm release, where every drone communicated and collaborated with every other drone. Leaderless, it operated as a “collective” and demonstrated collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing.
Finally, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced a drone swarm competitive challenge with winner to be selected in 2020. The article ends with these ominous words: “Get ready for the skies to darken.” (“and the sun and the air were darkened…” Rev 9:2).
Over the years, prophecy researchers and commentators have tried to relate the imagery of Revelation and other prophetic books to current technology. Their thoughts have been that the apostle John saw our modern day technology and then tried to describe it in the best words he had, for example, clouds of locusts with scorpion characteristics.
We at Salt Radio Ministries take no strong stand on exactly what John may have seen. It may have been what others have described. It may not have been. It may be what I’ve just described. It may not be.
Our message to our readers isn’t the details as much as the mental and spiritual focus we need to have in these last days: waking up to what’s happening all around us (Rom. 13:11, Eph. 5:4), and watching carefully as world events unfold (Matt.24:42-43).
However that happens, remember one thing that Revelation 9 tells us: the locust swarm will not hurt the earth’s vegetation and, more importantly, it will not harm anyone who has been sealed by God. (John 6:27, 2 Tim. 2:19). The seal of God is the Holy Spirit, which all believers in Christ have received. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt whether you are one of His believers or not, please find a Christian friend to explain it to you, or write us at SaltRadioMinistries@gmail.com, and we’ll walk you through it.
So let’s be watching as this new cyborg-insect swarm technology is developed and deployed. Whether it directly relates to the locusts in Revelation chapter 9 or not, it’s going to be a powerful – and powerfully intrusive – weapon.
And in case you didn’t know, DARPA, the government agency that’s developing cyborg-insects and swarms, is also conducting research into developing machine-human interfaces to create cyborg soldiers. Would they be like the Borg collective depicted on Star Trek? That ought to surely wake us up!
REFERENCES FOR FURTHER READING
The World’s Smallest Quad-Copter by Hammacher Schlemmer -- http://www.hammacher.com/Product/88365
Rise of the Insect Drones, Popular Science, January 29, 2014.
DragonflEye Project Wants to Turn Insects Into Cyborg Drones, IEEE Spectrum, January 25, 2017. http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/draper-dragonfleye-project
Draper's Genetically Modified Cyborg DragonflEye Takes Flight, at http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/drapers-genetically-modified-cyborg-dragonfleye-takes-flight
The Future of Drone Technology Lies in These Genetically Modified Dragonflies, at https://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/draper-genetically-modified-dragonfly-drones.html
Rise Of The Robot Bees: Tiny Drones Turned Into Artificial Pollinators, at http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/03/517785082/rise-of-the-robot-bees-tiny-drones-turned-into-artificial-pollinators
Researchers taking power of locust to new heights, at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-robot-locust-idUSKBN0UJ13D20160105
Watch the Navy's LOCUST Launcher Fire Off a Swarm of Autonomous Drones, at http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a21008/navy-locust-launcher-test-2016/
U.S. MILITARY PLANS CYBORG SOLDIERS WITH NEW DARPA PROJECT, Newsweek, January 21, 2016, at http://www.newsweek.com/us-military-plans-cyborg-soldiers-new-darpa-project-418128