"The Beast," a supercomputer in Belgium with every person on earth in it-Fiction!
"The Beast," a supercomputer in Belgium, is Being Used to Track Every Human Being on Earth-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A three-story computer in Brussels, Belgium called "The Beast," is described as being the brain-child of the European Common Market. It is said to be "self programming" and is intended to track the buying and selling activities of every person on earth. Additionally, the system is alleged to depend on invisible tattoos on the forehead or back of the hand of each person for identity purposes. Ominously, the tattoo will be of a unique, personalized number composed of three entries of three digits each.
It's easy to see how this story would grab the attention of Christians. It's almost as though it were tailor-made to fit with the book of Revelation. And... it was.
Unlike most urban legends, we have a clear trail that leads to where the story came from.
There are various printed versions of the story that date back to 1973, but the most widely circulated early account appeared in Christian Life magazine in August 1976.
Three months after publishing the story, Christian Life received a letter from Christian author Joe Musser.
In it, he explained that the Beast Computer of Belgium did not exist in reality, but in fantasy.
Musser said that he created the scenario for a novel he wrote, titled Beyond a Pale Horse, and for a screenplay for the David Wilkerson film, The Rapture.
In the letter, Musser said that for three years he had seen the story he had created being passed along as fact.
The possibility for confusing fiction with fact was there from the outset.
As a part of the promotion for the David Wilkerson film, some mock newspapers had been printed which had convincing-looking news stories about events that could be associated with the rapture, including the Beast Computer of Belgium.
Unless one read the small print next to the copyright notice, there was nothing to indicate that it was fiction.
As with other urban legends, some thoughtful evaluation of the facts would cast doubt on the story.
For example, anybody who is savvy enough about computers would know that it's not going to take a computer occupying three stories of a major building to catalog all the people on the earth.
Today's computers can handle the task in a fraction of that space – assuming there was some way to know who all the people were.
Also, some versions of the story stated that the computer was self-programming, suggesting that perhaps it had a life of its own outside of the humans who programmed it.
Artificial intelligence is a fascinating subject, and computers are getting smarter every day, but no computer expert that I know of is worried about whether a database program could become the Antichrist.
Additionally, even if a decision were made to track all humans, it is not clear that the European Common Market would be the entity to initiate or control it..
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:
Dr. Hanrick Eldeman, Chief Analyst of the Common Market Confederacy in Brussels, has revealed that a computerized restoration plan is already under way to straighten out world chaos. A crisis meeting in early 1974 brought together Common Market leaders, advisers and scientists at which time Dr. Eldeman unveiled “the Beast”.
The Beast is a gigantic three story computer located in the administrative building of the headquarters of the Common Market.
That monster is a self-programming computer that has more than one hundred sources distributing entries. Experts in programming have perfected a plan that will handle by computer all of the world’s trade.
This master plan would imply a system of digital enumeration of each human being of the earth. Thus the computer would give each inhabitant of the world a number to be used for each purchase or sale, removing the problem of present credit cards. This number would be invisibly tatooed by laser, either on the forehead or on the back of the hand. This would establish a walking credit card system. And the number could be seen only through infrared scanners, installed in special verification counters or in business places
Dr.Eldeman pointed out that by using three entries of six digits each, every inhabitant of the world would be given a distinct credit card number.