Can a purely random system be created? Is it possible?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Quantum Quack, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member


    Can a system be constructed that is truly random in nature?

    If you can not prove randomness is possible then everything must by default be determined. ~is the challenge.

    When talking about randomness and chance we often take for granted that these things actually exist. This of course is one hell of an assumption for us to make.
    Science has often thrown the randomness and chance notion into the arena and I would suggest not once has it proved that randomness is actually possible or that things can be influenced by a mythical entity called chance.

    We know from studies into chaos theories and even our attempts to create even the most sophisticated random number generators that no matter how we try we still end up with a controlled randomness, and certainly we are unable to create any form of natural randomness.

    This poses an interesting angle to the debate over determinism and evolution by design theorists. If it ain’t able to be random then what is it? [I am of course thinking of the meaning of randomness in absolute terms. As it is an absolute in notion]

    What say you?
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  3. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    The closest I can think of natural randomness would be radioactive decay:

    We know that if we had a sample of 1,000,000 radioactive particles then after the first half-life there would be 500,000 undecayed particles.

    But the actual particle in the sample that decays at a given time... surely random?

    It is this assumption (that it is truly random rather than merely chaotic) that I believe has resulted in this being used in hardware random-number generators.

    But whether it is TRULY random, at the absolute level...? I am not sure how you could possibly know that it isn't.

    If it looks random, acts random, sounds random...

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  5. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    A line of enquiry I am looking at is:
    "That if there is only one constant in a see of chaotic variables then those chaositic variables must be determined by that one constant therefore those variables are not random at all and are being determined by that constant."

    In the case of mathematics I get the impression tha the only constant that is used all the time is zero. It can never be anything else but absolute and zero.

    In the case of the universe, gravity is of course an all pervading constant, for example and everything in this universe from life to inanimate matter must conform to it's effects, thus it can be simply stated that if it exists then it must be determined by gravity's effects. So how can randomness exist if everything is under the infuence of a constant called gravity?

    And in mathematics: How can randomness exist if under the influence of the constant zero?

    Even in relativity theory a constant is assumed with a single observer. If time passes for that observer then it must do so constantly and consistantly.

    So again we could argue that time or the passage or time [ change] has to also apply a constant in a sea of chaotic variables. [ even if it can only be one observers universe.]
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  7. Learned Hand Registered Senior Member

    Consider, perhaps, the number pi. Infinite -- yes. Predictable -- no. Repetitious -- never.

    While pi is certainly not a "system," its use in geometry must imply a degree of error (or randomness) in every geometric shape involving a circle or semicircle.

    Just a thought.
  8. qwerty mob Deicidal Registered Senior Member


    No "infinitely complex" system can be organized which is sufficiently random as to merit the adjective "truly." In any "system" there will always be a limited number of steps or components (even if "uncountable," directly or abstractly), therefore permutations of possible selections or outcomes, whether real or imagined.

    As for the italicized, bolded challenge- it reads like a compound fallacy, of excluded middle and composition.


    Lastly, consider that the monicker "design theorists" is overly charitable to "believers"- lending such persons the slightest degree of credibility, to which they are simply not due.

    Last edited: Oct 18, 2007
  9. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    That would be proving a negative (i.e., "this phenomenon is not governed by any deterministic process"), which is well known to be impossible.

    There's no "must" about it. The fact that we can't prove that something is truly random does not imply that it isn't. You can't prove that there's a god, either, but that doesn't prove that there isn't one.
  10. Cortex_Colossus Banned Banned


    I am not and I am. A square becomes circle because of the point-by-point singularity and infinity rolled up into Planck diameter.

    The I am that is God, good and love.

    I am God consciousness. I therefore am God, consciousness, good and love.

    I am also pure awareness. All things hence become one and the existence of existential and other concepts are merged by their opposites defined by "I" and non-"I" to create objects of specific level and cognitive priority. Thought and concepts are truly non-conceptual and imperceptible as the non-separation of GOd is the one reality in existence and of existence (the real universe). It is this non-separation that conception causes, we can conceive only nothing before we can perceive something.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2007
  11. Non-Logical-Idea-Guy Fat people can't smile. Registered Senior Member

    Humans or any machine of humans can never construct a totally random form because by nature humans are unable to do absolutely random things. Ultimately randomness (on the human level) is just something we cannot be bothered to explain.

    EG. You roll a dice and it lands on a six. To a human this is "luck." However with a closer look we can understand that it landed on a six because of the angle we released the dice, the fact that it bounced off one corner at X angle and then hit the square at Y angle etc etc.
    To prove randomness you have to define it beyond the human understanding - (something we don't want to explain) - which obviously, being humans, we cannot do.
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Compare: Can you prove that anything is determined ? If you cannot than everything must by default be random.

    That makes as much sense. And since according to current theory nothing can be proven to be determined, the conclusion is hard to avoid if the premises are accepted.
  13. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Ahhh! But we set up deterministic systems all the time. In fact everything mankind does is created in a deterministic manner. But not once as far as I can see have we set anything up that even remotely resembles randomness using it's proper definition.
    So I find your contra to be some what lacking.

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    It is not nature that is suggesting that it is random in nature. It is only mankind, in particular science and philosphy, that will allow the notion of chance and randomness to be held as valid propositions. It is in fact counter intuitive to entertain notions of randomness so therefore it is up to science/philosophy to prove it's proposition that randomness is in fact a valid concept in reality and worthy of serous consideration.

    It is however very intuitive to consider determinism, as we as a race attempt to do this every day of our lives. Constantly attempting to determine that which we are currently unable to. It is the nature of the mind to seek patterns and order in what appears to be chaos and having notions of randomness when such is mere myth, only makes the task of making sense of the universe harder and more confusing.

    If science or philosophy wishes to hold a notion then it must support it in some way, and as yet I see no support for the notion of randomness, however I see a huge amount of support for the notion of determinism.
    Show me something that can be shown to be random in behaviour and I will change my POV.
  14. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    good post querty!
    I personally think that "design theorists" are merely confusing the issue with volition or "design by act of deliberate will". But I understand your concerns.
    If one bends the definitions of words slightly one can easilly suggest that the universe is in the act of evolving it's own design systematically and in an entirely automatic fashion. Like instinctive learning in humans.

    It is only when we pressume sentience and the act of volition in this evolution that we run into problems.

    It's a bit like generating a rudementary system of intellect [ Artificial intelligence ] that has the ability to self evolve and grow]
    100 years later when we look at our creation we will see evolution by design yet really it is just the evolution of evolution. It looks like design but really it is automatically and intuitively generated as time passes and NON pre-emptive in nature.
    Does a tree prepare for a hot summer in advance or does it simply do what it has evolved to do?
  15. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Prove it.

    You can't. It could just be that all of those systems were completely random, and that their operations just happened, by pure chance, to coincide with what we'd expect if they were deterministic.

    This is the same issue that prevents you from ever proving that a particular scientific theory is true. You can potentially prove that they're false, but you can never conclusively prove that they're true.
  16. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Ok lets see.....hmmmmm
    I am going to post teh numbers 1,2,3 separated by a + sign and then I am going to post a question mark.....hmmmmmm ok here we go....
    Hmmmm...ok let me do it again....
    well I don't know, that seems pretty determined to me if not a little trite...ha

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    I have quite obviously determined what I just did. I have proved it, and it definitely isn't random as it is in the context of this thread.
    Is it absolutely true what I have just claimed?
    Have I just proved that somethings can be determined?

    Potentially you may be able to prove that what I claimed is false but to do so you would have to resort to semantics.
    Now lets see if I can do something that is random in absolutuum?

    sorry but can't......

    Have I just proved that scientific reasoning as per proofs and evidence are inadequate?

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    Determinism CAN be proven as True [ on occassion ]. but the challenge continues to exist regarding randomness .......

    If the next post to this thread is truely random I shall proverbably "eat my shorts"
    If the next post is in some way determined then someone else can "eat their own shorts."

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    and if no one bother to post well....what can I say?!
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2007
  17. andbna Registered Senior Member

    Technicaly, all you have prooven is that you correctly guessed your future actions.

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    Anyway, as per rondomness:
    An electron and a positron are travelling towards each other along a line, with equal speeds (relative to some observer)

    e- --> <-- e+

    When they colide they form 2 photons. Which direction do they travell off in?
    Since the the system has 0 net momentum, and all the energy will be converted into the photons, there is nothing to determin which direction the photons will go off in: it is Random by any definition.

    EDIT: Furthurmore, even if the universe is completely determined from this point on (ie we falsify the randomness of radioactive decay, photons pairs, etc... somewhere in the future with a better theory) We cannot obeserve what happened before the Big Bang, and as such, which path the universe followed could have been randomly determined from that point (much as a die determins the randomness in a game, but after it has been rolls, the next few actions are deterministic based on the outcome.)

  18. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    No, you've offered evidence of it, but you haven't proved it. You'd have to repeat that experiment an infinite number of times in order to actually prove it. Except, if you tried that, you'd fail, because, eventually, you'd make a typographical error, or be struck by lightning, or get bored and wander away. There's always some non-zero chance that something unexpected will prevent you from writing what you intended to.
  19. qwerty mob Deicidal Registered Senior Member

    Prove it.
  20. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    If you insist. Proving that a process is purely deterministic amounts to proving that the probability of any unexpected outcome is exactly 0. Any finite number of successful repetitions (i.e., where you get the expected outcome) of the experiment still leave open the possibility that the probability is greater than 0. You can say with higher and higher confidence that it is smaller and smaller as the number of trials increases, but you can't get 100% confidence that the probability is exactly 0 with a finite number of trials. To do that, you need an infinite number of trials, which would ensure that an unexpected outcome would occur if the probability of such an outcome is in fact greater than 0.

    The insight here is that even actions that seem to be completley deterministic, such as typing a set sequence of numbers, are actually not. It's just that the probability of an unexpected outcome is so small that we can ignore it for all practical purposes.
  21. raydpratt Registered Senior Member

    Functionally Random versus Truly Random

    I am interested in randomness as a practical matter, as a gambler, and I have come to some tentative conclusions. First, since everything except that primordial first cause, God himself, is in fact directly caused by some prior fact, then absolutely nothing is in fact truly random.

    However, as a gambler, I am aware that some recurring pattern of events can nonetheless be effectively random in light of a given desire to predict that pattern or to exploit it.

    So, randomness as to a purpose is a valid concept, although true randomness is not.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ray Donald Prat
  22. glaucon tending tangentially Moderator

    The argument is unsound due to an unsupported premiss.

    To the OP: you do realize of course that your question itself contains a contradiction?
  23. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Maybe it is worth differentiating between chance and randomness?

    "....I have determined that the chance of winning this hand of cards is being determnined by all the factors of the game which I am not priviledged to know of [ not cheating]
    Given all the variables I determine that the chance is at say 80% because I hold all the aces...etc etc..."

    But due to not knowing the other factors we can only refer to it as chance yet this does not imply randomness. If anything it reinforces deterministic notions. Chance being determined by factors beyond our control or comprehension.
    Randomness is a very different notion I tend to think.

    Differentiating the definition of Chance and Randomness would be very worth while I feel.

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