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Discussion with Random

BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
This was born of too much time rolling and rerolling character the last few days- and a sense of humor about my tendencies. I started thinking a lot as I kept staring at the randomly generated results click after click... and decided to make the thoughts into a dialog...

Enjoy!

WARNING: It's long... but charming and witty and informative and... stuff...


Me: *click* *click* *click* *click* *click*… “Just gimme a total roll in the 90s for once! Dammit!”

Random: “Are you talking to me?”

Me: “Uh… yeah… I suppose. You’re random. Randomly give me a 100 or something.”

Random: “Well, I’ve been giving you plenty of ‘something’, so I'm not sure what you’re asking for…”

Me: “A 90s total roll! You know what I'm clicking the REROLL button for!”

Random: “Yes, yes, you want some number I'm very unlikely to give you. Never would have guessed. It is unlikely, you know.”

Me: “Unlikely isn’t impossible.”

Random: “Not to issue tautologies willy-nilly, but unlikely is unlikely.”

Me: “But possible.”

Random: “Mmm… and not very probable.”

Me: “But you can do it. And you have. So just do it again!”

Random: “Oh, I will… maybe in a decade or so…”

Me: “Why a decade? You already gave me a number of 90+ total roll within a matter of hours.”

Random: “Hm, so I did. Just saying… do the math…”

Me: “I did.”

Random: “Oh, really?”

Me: “Sort of.”

Random: “Uh huh…”

Me: “Well, I started a stopwatch and noted how often a score of 90 or more shows up.”

Random: “Someone clearly has time on their hands…”

Me: “That way I was able to determine a relative frequency for when a good score will show up.”

Random: “Good for you. But you forget who you’re talking to.”

Me: “Myself?”

Random: “Ha. No. Random. I don’t play by rules.”

Me: “Yes, you do. It’s documented.”

Random: “Mmmmm, no.”

Me: “For a Fighter/Mage/Thief it’s a frequency of a 90 or better once per 10 minutes… roughly…”

Random: “Because you got it once?”

Me: “Of course not. A couple days ago I watched it over eight consecutive 10-minute periods, over which the average frequency per 10-minute period was-“

Random: “Wait, wait. You’re missing the big picture here.”

Me: “How so? It’s statistical, subjectable to repeated tests for verification. I got it 3 times once, none a couple times- averaged out to 1 instance every 10 minutes. And it’s relatively consistent.”

Random: “I'm not talking math at this point. I mean, you went for 80 minutes of mindless clicking in some vain attempt to subject me to some silly rule?”

Me: “Eh… yeah… and counting… not exactly mindless though. I'm watching numbers, evaluating scores, maintaining a steady pace… thinking as I'm doing it, changing positions, stretching, but focusing…”

Random: “I’ll be sure to let the top national thinktanks know you’re available…”

Me: “You’re trying to persuade me not to play the odds? I thought you were random. What do you care?”

Random: “I am random. I'm not evil. I can’t help but wince at the, erm, extensiveness… of your efforts… You’d be surprised how often the universe groans at human absurdity…”

Me: “You can’t deny the pattern though, can you?”

Random: “Of course, I can. I'm random. I do whatever I please. If I want to break your little predictive system into mind farts, I can. It’s almost as if you don’t want me to give you 5 total rolls of 95 within a 5 minute period. After all, that would ruin your sacred predictive system, wouldn’t it? Oh, no!”

Me: “Uh, no, you can break the rule for that.”

Random: “And they say I'm the fickle one…”

Me: “Except I'm responding to real incentives rather than-“

Random: “Yes, yes, you needn’t make an argument for you being laughably predictable. I’ll agree wholeheartedly. Let’s see, and will you be clicking again many, many more times in the next several minutes… sitting around absurdly trying to get that unlikely score…? I predict yes…”

Me: “Fine, but you’re still bound to deliver that high score- however unlikely- at some point. You have before.”

Random: “But I haven’t for the last hour, it seems. Best you got was an oh-so-measely 88.”

Me: “With a STR18/95 though.”

Random: “Ooh! 18/95! Then why the fuss over a 90s total roll?”

Me: “Because total roll can trump STR score... or I usually go that way. Accepting a lower total score is a permanent low score I’ll never be able to correct through the available ability-enhancement manuals in the game, but one trip to the Candlekeep Catacombs can fix a low STR18/01 score up to STR19. Kinda ridiculous that way actually, but there you go.”

Random: “So you’ve thought this through. Good for you.”

Me: “You asked.”

Random: “Semi-rhetorically. I'm still concerned about your gambling habit.”

Me: “Then give me some great 90s rolls, I’ll be on my way.”

Random: “tsk-tsk… The Great Wall of Random is overcome by neither mere insistence nor your compulsive gambler’s persistence…”

Me: “Please. It’s not like gambling. I don’t have to buy tickets or lose gobs of cash on bets, and I can make these ‘bets’ every second or so at no cost. I'm not risking losing a million with each click.”

Random: “Oh? Only every second?”

Me: “I was going faster, but… I clicked past 94’s and 95’s more times than I care to divulge. So I slowed down my clicking rate to within my reaction time range.”

Random: “Too funny. Here you are complaining about getting a single 90s score every ten minutes of mindless clicking the REROLL button, but when you get it you just sail on past it. You just like clicking, not getting on with the game.”

Me: “Woh- you say you’re ‘concerned’ but find it funny that I cruelly lost those precious, rare rolls to mere haste?”

Random: “I'm random that way… I told him not to count on consistency from me… But will he listen? Outlook does not look good.”

Me: “Sometimes I have to wonder if this game is rigged somehow to discourage long rerolling sessions, making good scores less likely the longer you go along.”

Random: “Oh, it is. But not that way. It’s rigged to constantly make you think you’re getting closer to a great roll and then leave you hanging until you settle for less.”

Me: “It is???!”

Random: “Of course not, predictable human. It’s actually entirely random.”

Me: “Why mock? You told me it was rigged, didn’t you?”

Random: “Of course I did. I'm random. I could say anything.”

Me: “Well, it sometimes seems a bit coincidental that I'm getting consistently inferior scores.”

Random: “’Seems’ is your key word there.”

Me: “Maybe ‘looks suspicious’ is a better term.”

Random: “Nnnno. Worse term actually… Sentients and their predictive systems…” *sigh*

Me: “Yeah, well, it’s seems a tad odd that at this point I’ve gotten six 90+ rolls consecutively, but-”

Random: “In a row? Or over hours of your not-so-precious time?”

Me: “You have to say that? Over hours- whatever…”

Random: “Six 90s in a row is even more unlikely for a Fighter-Mage-Thief. Try a ranger for better chances…”

Me: “I'm making a point! In the last six times that I’ve gotten a 90+ total roll, the STR score was within the crappy 18/01-18/50 range. Every friggin’ time! Since it’s a 50-50 chance of getting better than that- even just one notch better- you’d think I’d have seen at least one or two instances of a 90+ total roll combined with an 18/76 or something. But, no. Every single bloody 90+ total roll- that I’ve had to click for around 10 minutes or so just to get to, of course- is accompanied by the worst possible STR score. Six times in a row! How is that random?”

Random: “He wants an unlikely result. He gets one. He’s still unsatisfied…”

Me: “I mean, OK, it’s possible that the game isn’t written to give all high total rolls a low STR score accompaniment.”

Random: “In fact, the game mechanics are so likely to not be written that way that you really shouldn’t concoct conspiracy theories about devs denying players the uber-scores they’re after. Then again, with all that time on your hands to clickety-click…”

Me: “I'm not saying it’s even likely. I'm just saying it’s been working against me significantly more often than it’s been working for me and it defies explanation.”

Random: “I'm random. I work for no one. OK, the devs have me generating scores for you player-type people- I can’t resist- but otherwise I'm an independent contractor.”

Me: “What I'm driving at is that, if you’re truly random, the next 90+ total roll score I get should by all rights be accompanied by a better STR modifier score than this repeated 18/01-50 junk.”

Random: “Ooh, so it’s your ‘right’ now. Get a constitutional amendment passed for it and the authorities will be able to force me… At least you could sue me for damages when I still don’t comply.”

Me: “OK, then, not a right: it’s the law of probability. I can’t keep flipping the coin on the STR modifier and indefinitely get heads.”

Random: “Um… yes, you could. Until you die anyway. Or lose the coin.”

Me: “But infinite ‘heads’ would be unlikely, no? You’re big on the unlikely after all. Getting uniform lowest STR scores every time is more unlikely than getting something higher than that at some point. And getting over 18/50 should happen at least half of the time.”

Random: “Probabilistically-speaking maybe. But I'm crazy like that. If I want to keep generating low scores for you forever I may just do that... Anything goes really.”

Me: “Flipping a coin to heads forever won’t happen. The universe isn’t that absurd.”

Random: “You should watch the movie ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.’ Amusing artistic examination of that premise…”

Me: “Yeah, I saw it. Great movie, but that’s art. This is real life.”

Random: “It’s Baldur’s Gate…”

Me: “Probability is a constant in real life.”

Random: “’Probability is a constant…’ Now there’s a fun contradiction in terms…”

Me: “It’s a real world mechanic, I mean.”

Random: “It’s how you tend to look at things, sure.”

Me: “And it’s how science has enabled us to master all sorts of reality regardless of how unpredictable- even intangible- they may seem otherwise. The scientific method has proven results. Without it we wouldn’t have succeeded at our greatest technological achievements.”

Random: “Like enabling whelps to click for hours at a time at a computer? Yes, yes, all very impressive. So now you think you’ll apply this scientific method to the scores I'm generating for you?”

Me: “Why not?”

Random: “Oh, I'm not telling you how to play your video games. I'm just… oh, I can hardly contain my mirth… I'm noticing a little miscalculation in your little predictive system.”

Me: “I'm not. It works fairly consistently.”

Random: “Ah, so now I'm ‘fair.’ Good that you acknowledge this. Not that I try to be…”

Me: “You’re not fair. You’re random.”

Random: “The randommest.”

Me: “Good for you.”

Random: “So smug now, are we? Don’t you want to know what your miscalculation is?”

Me: “There isn’t one. Predictiveness is success.”

Random: “And how thoroughly have you tested that premise? Over the course of a year’s worth of mindless clicking? A decade? Or the last couple days here and there between your ‘real’ life goings on?”

Me: “What does that matter?”

Random: “Because I may be chucking the 90+ total rolls to you on a different frequency than every 10 minutes. Seems pretty arbitrary to select 10 minutes anyway.”

Me: “It was a nice, round number… useful to the amount of time I’ve been devoting anyway.”

Random: “Let’s say my own probability meter is based on every 10 hours instead of every 10 minutes. So I have to deliver around a certain number of your 90+ thingies within each 10-hour period of your mindless mouse-clickings. This means that I could be entirely consistent to that frequency by not giving you a single 90+ thingy for the first 9 hours of clicking.”

Me: “So you’re trying to manipulate the rules, eh? I thought you don’t play by rules.”

Random: “Got me to my point yourself! Now you’re getting it, whelp. I have no arbitrary frequency rules to abide by. My frequency interval is infinity! Which is essentially… whenever I please.”

Me: “The game calls me ‘whelp.’ You don’t get to.”

Random: “Rules again… Will he ever learn?”

Me: “So you’re chaotic neutral. No rules, every which way, yada yada.”

Random: “Or you could say true neutral- like the Law of Thermodynamics. Except, as a ‘law,’ I'm more just a force to be reckoned with than anything so formal. You can read more into me if you like. Pattern-recognition creatures like yourself tend to do that. I won’t judge.”

Me: “Right, well, I haven’t observed an interval in which I’ve been unable to get a 90+ total score for more than… well, like 10 minutes… or so…”

Random: “Hahaha… yes, you have. Took you an hour to get these last three 90+ rolls, didn’t it? Care to tune your frequency adjustment yet?”

Me: “It’s not perfectly consistent, fine. But generally.”

Random: “So you’re ‘generally’ scientific. Gotcha.”

Me: “I’ve gotten results. Period.”

Random: “Over how much of your clickable time though? You know, there’s a program that would take a lot less time and effort… hm, should I call sitting around clicking a mouse an effort?”

Me: “It’s an effort. Believe me. I don’t know if it’s attention-deficit-disorder or just a natural human tendency not to focus for long periods of time on a single, simplistic task, but it’s hard to keep going at times and does wear on me. We get carpal tunnel syndrome for repeated physical tasks with our hands, so maybe there’s a similar condition for repeated mental tasks as well. The brain is a physical entity after all.”

Random: “Chinese water torture for your little cortex then, is it? Well, well. My job of generating numbers just got qualitatively more enjoyable…”

Me: “This vacillation between concern and vindictiveness doesn’t give you whiplash?”

Random: “Not in the least. It’s my ‘nature’, wouldn’t ya know. But about that other little program. It will let you alter your character files so that you can simply give them the uber-scores you clearly feel they’re meant to have. Why not do that rather than insist on bothering me with this truly obscene amount of clicked number generation requests? It’s what you’re after, isn’t it? Those oh-so-powerful scores? So go for it. Get the scores with an infinitesimally smaller portion of clicks. Be free!”

Me: “Seems a lot simpler, no? But I wouldn’t be able to play the characters.”

Random: “Oh, here we go. Is it ‘principle’? Always buggering up matters for you predictable creatures.”

Me: “I wouldn’t say it’s principle, no. OK, maybe. It’s just that getting those high scores with random number generation does make them authentically rare. I didn’t cheat them into existence. It wasn’t arbitrary. And you’ve taken pains to tell me I can’t count on you.”

Random: “Oh, so he was listening. Maybe it’s the appreciating part he’s lacking then.”

Me: “Anyway, by attaining them that way- down a path that may be instant or take hours sifting through results- it does maintain game-immersion by discovering the scores in-game. There’s that driving music during character creation too, making the search seem all-important, scouring the hundreds, maybe thousands, of unwitting applicants- however many it takes- for that one who can soar ahead of them all and triumph over… well, you know: spoilers.“

Random: “So it’s all so you can feel like a special snowflake? That’s what I'm generating numbers for? Can’t you play special snowflake with low generated numbers too?”

Me: “I can’t steal the 1000gp sapphire from Candlekeep otherwise. And get all the CHA18 benefits. And maintain good lore so I don’t have to constantly pay for Identify’s. And maximize my spell book so I'm not lamely unable to cast spells. And, of course, be able to carry all the heavy inventory the game sticks you with. And big backstabs.”

Random: “Point taken, I suppose. Can’t do without every single one of those. For shame. Game would be a complete loss then.”

Me: “Is that sarcasm? So randomness is sarcastic?”

Random: “Of course, I am. You’ve nailed me on that. I'm a consistently sarcastic entity.”

Me: “Ha!”

Random: “No, I'm not. I'm random. Read patterns elsewhere. Oh, wait, you, on the other hand, are predictable, so you’ll read patterns everywhere…”

Me: “Right. So where is my total roll 96, STR18/00?”

Random: “Still on that are you? Of course, you are… hours later. Any luck yet?”

Me: “Luck- haha. Good one.”

Random: “Comforts a lot of pattern-recognition creatures to think there’s some little gremlin in the works that can bypass me. But nope. Nice spell in the game though- Luck. Try that instead. It’ll work better than trying your luck with me.”

Me: “So when are you going to stop taunting me?”

Random: “When you stop trying to master me…”

Me: “Oh, come on. It’s been an hour and a half now with only one more 90+ total roll- just a 91 too- bleh. And yet again: STR18/34- same BS low STR score. That’s seven in a row! I'm feeling like Charlie Brown here with Lucy: every time the bloody 90+ comes up you pull the football away with a low STR score. If you claim you’re random, let’s see your scores actually look like random.”

Random: “And I should care about appearances because…? The Randomness Police will fine me for violating the law of lawlessness? Don’t worry. I paid my dues, so they look the other way…”

Me: “Just tell me how long this is gonna take!”

Random: “Um… forever? What if I told you that you’d get exactly the score you want- or even better: a total roll of 100 with STR18/00… in exactly 6 hours of mindless clicking? Would you do it?”

Me: “It’ll take that long?”

Random: “Just answer the question, Clicky Boy. Would you sit there clicking for 6 hours straight just to get your Super Special Snowflake?”

Me: “…”

Random: “Well…?”

Me: “…”

Random: “Is there any time limit on your patience? Any limit at all to your compulsiveness? What about 20 hours, eh? We’re talking 18/00 here. And the highly-improbable total roll of 100. I’ll even up it to the max improbability of TR108. Oh! To see such a seemingly miraculous feat of random generation as to get all 18s in every ability- more or less- and the max STR score as well. Would you keep clicking for 20 hours straight to get that? Rare is rare, yes? Special snowflake is… tautology, tautology…”

Me: “Tempting…”

Random: “And that’s where you’re little different than the gambling addict.”

Me: “I'm losing nothing. I'm not gambling away anything to suffer losses.”

Random: “Time, you impudent whelp! Your squandered currency is time! Not to mention your poor mouse. You’ll need a new one soon.”

Me: “You know, I'm too old to qualify as a whelp.”

Random: “He speaks to a more or less eternal entity as me with entreaties to his oh-so-advanced age… Impudent whelp…”

Me: “It’s not that much time I'm putting into it anyway. I put in the initial extra hours combing the reroller results, then cruise the rest of the game with well-prepared otherwise-unwitting heroes.”

Random: “So you howl at me that it’s taking too much time to get the scores you want, but then whine that it’s not taking too much time- not really. Except you’re not consistently inconsistent like me. You’re just self-contradictory, trying to play both sides. Let me check the forum for a poll about how many hours it takes most players to complete a single game… I’ll wager you could’ve played an entire game in the time it’s taken you to ‘create’ all these special snowflakes of yours. Time: 1. You: 0.”

Me: “People enjoy games differently.”

Random: “Clearly. Some are content to just indulge in a game’s random number generation mechanic…”

Me: “I wouldn’t say I enjoy it. I’d enjoy it more if you’d just relent more often.”

Random: “Oh, but I do ‘relent.’ I’ve tossed you far more than you appreciate! By the math you should get diddly squat, but... fine, I’ll do the math for you then. You know the chances of rolling an average of at least, say, 15 in a 3-18 random number generation- in six consecutive rolls? That would net you a total roll of your precious 90. If you want a higher total you’ll need an average higher than 15 per attribute, yes? But let’s take 15. That means 15, 16, 17, and 18 are good. Yeah, yeah, we’re not dealing with your non-human score alterations, so stuff it. That’s four numbers out of the total fifteen that I’d generate or a 27% chance. Yeah, yeah, you can get a 15 by pairing an 18 with a 12, but we’re working with an average here, whelp, so bear with me. That’s a roughly 27% chance for each attribute- 4/15. But to get a number in that 27% range for all six of the attributes simultaneously you’d have to multiply the percentage by itself 6 times- 27% X 27% X 27% X 27% X 27% X 27%. In that way, in order to get a simple total of 90, your chances drop to .039ish% per attempt- a tiny fraction of 1-in-100, mind you, not quite the 1-in-4 for each attribute alone. And that’s for a 90. You want a 96? Ha! You should be happy I give you anything above an 80.”

Me: “I get 90s regardless. It’s not like my chances of winning the state lottery. I do win- and regularly… enough. Your math must be wrong somehow.”

Random: “Oh, my calculations could be quite easily be mistaken. I'm random, not a mathematician- could say anything. And by the way, that number gets even tinier when you want a total roll of 90 simultaneously with a STR18/00 which is already only a 1% chance. You’d need to mindlessly click 1,000s of times just to bring your chances up to some fraction of a reasonable chance. How often do you click? 60 times a minute?”

Me: “More like 40-45 to account for reaction time.”

Random: “Well, there ya go. All that time getting to one of those unlikely 90+ scores only to click past it like it was a 75. Should we add a new factor into your chances- that of whether you miss the 90+ score when it does rarely arise?”

Me: “Yeah, rub it in. Helps so much. I don’t do that anymore… much…”

Random: “OK, so you mindlessly click at a rate of- we’ll be generous and say 45 times per minute. That’s a rate of 2700 clicks per hour… because you’re insane. If you need up to 10K chances to bring your overall chances up to something reasonable… heh… that’ll take you around 3 hours of steady mindless clicking to get to. Then you get your small chance. Then you fail it and go another 2 hours toward your next one. Just saying…”

Me: “Whatever, Longtooth Worthington. I just want a good STR score to go with my TR90s for once. Not much to ask, and statistically reasonable.”

Random: “You’re so unusual. No one else wants a good STR score.”

Me: “Haha. But with all your probability calculations, what does it matter? You’re random. You could give me a high STR score and a high total roll without losing a thing. Each roll is random, not subject to probabilistic requisites or amenable to an established rate of instance. Plus there’s no bank to break giving me what I want. No reputation to uphold about denying players great scores. No incentives to abide. No compulsions. Nothing preventing you at all. So why not? Be random that way and unexpectedly give me a TR100 and STR18/00 the moment I sit down to create every character.”

Random: “Ooh, ooh. I'm almost- yes, almost- woh- almost feeling ashamed! Ah, but, no. Not in the least. Does that appeal work on most random number generators? You know once you requested it, it no longer became ‘unexpected,’ right? I’ll just bask in the irony of you insisting on your probability of ultimately getting your high scores out of me then turning around and admitting I don’t have to do anything of the sort.”

Me: “Fine. But after all this time, you’re still not going to relent? It’s been well over 2 hours straight now.”

Random: “Missed your tiny window of statistically virtual opportunity, did you? Put in another couple hours for another…”

Me: “I will. I'm stubborn that way. And determined.”

Random: “And any other euphemism for ‘obsessed’ you drum up. Because the more time you spend with my random number generation, the more compelled I’ll be to accede to your oh-so-important request for a Fighter-Mage-Thief with special snowflake attributes…? I suppose you’ll just wear me down this way, right? Good luck with that!”

Me: “You mock my ‘special snowflake’ interest, but does that mean if it were a request about something more substantive than a video game, you might grant it?”

Random: “People dying of thirst pray for rain on the off-chance gremlins will fix the weather in their favor. Does that work either? Even if it subsequently started raining, that would just be you pattern-recognizers at work again anthropomorphizing statistical probability. Unlikely = unlikely, whelp. That’s the only so-called principle.”

Me: “So you do have principles, eh? The principle of tautology.”

Random: “You’d call it a principle, so I said, ‘so-called.’”

Me: “So you’re just a dick then?”

Random: “Not to the ones I go and plop some nice juicy random high scores on. They think I'm a saint. Silly willies. Except players like you who can’t stand that one little pea under their mattress when they get an immensely improbable total roll of 98 and retain the chutzpa to grumble about an accompanying 18/14 STR score…”

Me: “It was just cruel to do that, and you know it- finally gave me an ultra-rare roll but coupled it with the most common roll for STR. It’s like spite. So I just know better about you. There’s nothing reasonable about you at all.”

Random: “On the contrary. I am completely impartial and do as I please without the slightest regard to consequences or variables.”

Me: “…”

Random: “What?”

Me: “That’s not reasonability.”

Random: “How reasonable would it be to be nice to some, nasty to others, all based on my own preferences? I have the most nonjudgmental tendencies you’ll ever come across. I'm purest arbitrariness. Even a rock is less reasonable that I am, that brooding, static, predictable lump of do-nothing. With your long sessions of sitting around mindlessly clicking away at the REROLL button you may empathize with Mr. Rock.”

Me: “You really are a dick.”

Random: “You started it. Besides, ‘cruel only to be kind’ and all that. After all, am I wrong?”

Me: “You shouldn’t even be talking with me. Language from you should be random garble.”

Random: “Always a random chance it won’t be garble though, no? Perhaps you simply exist in the one quantum instance of a universe in which my random seeming responses appear to correspond with discursiveness on your part. What a special snowflake that makes you. You must’ve gotten me to generate a high interactivity-with-randomness score for you. Congratulations.”

Me: “Ha. But that’s just sophistry. You exist just to torment people.”

Random: “In fact, it’s more likely that a random generator of letters and punctuation would create a Shakespearean play than a bunch of monkeys that predictably will use a typewriter for a commode rather than oops out a ‘Hamlet’ with it.”

Me: “…”

Random: “You don’t really think I exist just to torment people, do you?”

Me: “… Not really… just frustrated… getting on 3 hours now…”

Random: “Calling it quits?”

Me: “Probably… haha. Get it?”

Random: “What’s your best snowflake in that time then?”

Me: “TR92, STR18/72. Not terrible, but too much to reduce CON and WIS down in order to max the rest. And the STR stat isn’t high enough to consider making an exception.”

Random: “So you finally got your oh-so-probable change in the weather, eh? A 90+ with a higher STR score. And still not good enough, is it? Predictable.”

Me: “I’ll get it at some point.”

Random: “Well, another exhausting three hour session at the salt mines down. See you when you’re ready for another shot at the jackpot.”

Me: “Yeah, whatever. See you then.”

Post edited by Bhryaen on
MoradinBelgarathMTHGallowglassKilivitzJuliusBorisovBillyYankNonnahswriter

Comments

  • MoradinMoradin Member Posts: 372
    Interesting read. Half way through, I really thought it would be cool to have an option that stops to inform you whenever you click reroll on a 90+. Way too many times it has happened to me to reroll a 93/94 and then swear to the gods (Dwarven pantheon) for the next 10 minutes or so. Useless, but cool. Now I continue the interesting read.

    JuliusBorisovGozeta
  • MoradinMoradin Member Posts: 372
    Bhryaen said:

    [...]At least BGEE added the "Total Roll" count section. I used to have to tally everything with each roll, estimating prior whether it'd be worth it.

    You're old school then, like my brother and I. The total roll is a divine grace, but we both know that we're just degenerate gamblers and often click past a 90+ just because we're used to the old ways or simply because we're, well... degenerate gamblers! But the game is also fun that way, so it would OK in my book if they kept it like that. I will satisfy my gambling in other ways, like sending my thief in a naked run through Ulcaster's dungeon without checking for traps...

    BhryaenJuliusBorisovGozeta
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,502
    I enjoyed reading this. However, I do see one flaw in the premise behind the story - computer RNG isn't true or "pure" randomness. Computers use pre-programmed strings of numbers, admittedly very large strings of numbers, designed to simulate true randomness. This can cause some unusual or strange results, depending on where the computer is in the string when it runs an RNG command.

    (Such as the often intuited but unprovable perception that the computer is rolling "to hit" rolls less than ten on a d20 far more often than 50 percent of the time it rolls "to hit" rolls greater than ten. There's always a chance that confirmation bias is going on, because of the foibles of randomness and human reaction to it that you point out.)

    Here's a link to the wiki article explaining in detail the problems inherent in attempting to create pure RNG:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_number_generation

    I don't point this out to diminish the hilarious creativity of your essay, though. You're spot on about how humans interact with randomness in the universe and try to either analyze it into predictability or to personify it.

    GallowglasssemiticgodBhryaenJuliusBorisov
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095
    I saw a speedrun of Earthbound where they manipulated the game's RNG by pressing buttons at the right time. There was a fight where they pressed a dummy button 42 times before attacking just to get the right damage.

    GallowglassBhryaenJuliusBorisov
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    Hmmm. For software which needs to run on multiple platforms, obviously the devs can make no assumption about how RNG works on a particular machine. Unless they (or perhaps the compiler-writers for whichever language is used for development) want to "re-invent the wheel", they'll just have to use whatever RNG call is in the API libraries for each o/s on which they're publishing.

    In turn, API library writers for each o/s will be trying to implement a hardware-independent RNG call, but (presumably) will provide an o/s hook for a hardware driver to make the o/s aware of any hardware RNG facility in the particular machine. By default, in the absence of dedicated RNG hardware, I'd guess that o/s writers will probably rely on seeding a pseudo-random algorithm with the current hardware clock-tick at the time of the RNG call.

    Thus, it's quite likely that software devs (inc. Beamdog) have no way of telling exactly how RNG works in any particular case. The answer probably isn't the same from one platform to another, from one o/s to another, from one manufacturer to another, and maybe not even from one model to another.

    I saw a speedrun of Earthbound where they manipulated the game's RNG by pressing buttons at the right time. There was a fight where they pressed a dummy button 42 times before attacking just to get the right damage.

    For that to be possible, I reckon the devs of Earthbound must have gone for the "re-inventing the wheel" approach of writing their own RNG ... and done it rather crudely.

    BelgarathMTHGandaJuliusBorisov
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095
    @Gallowglass: No idea how they figured out how to manipulate RNG. I have little understanding of the matter, but it sounded like Earthbound RNG was the product of a formula, including certain variables built into the game, rather than a string or a seed (is that what you meant by re-inventing the wheel?). I think they were able to reset the RNG by resetting the game, though I don't know if that says anything about the method for producing the RNG.

  • BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
    @BelgarathMTH Well, great. Now you've given my conspiracy theorizing new grist for its mill. :P I've been wondering how randomness was being "produced," since it's not like computer programs commune with a Platonic ideal of random in order to produce randomness. In fact, randomness itself is a bit of an entity of "perception" rather than an actual physical entity. If humans can't devise a predictive system to anticipate it, we call it "random," but that's just a measure of the capacity of human predictive systems. Even the "pure" rng's rely on physical entities that are otherwise potentially measurable/predictable.

    Definitely fun to learn what's actually going on though, so thanks for the link. That wiki article on rng's mentions that there actually are patterns to be discerned in many rng's- or rather png's (pseudo-random number generators)... which makes me feel like maybe I've been witnessing that. I've noticed that 90+ scores tend to come in clusters... If only I just had to click it 42 times... which is the answer to life, the universe, and everything after all...

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
    @Gallowglass
    It's always great to end up in a discussion board encountering someone with actual experience/knowledge on a subject. Are you a statistician or mathematician or something?

    I'm not sure about the position of those who assert that randomness is a physical entity. There's a lot of hype using the term "quantum," as if by simply calling something a "quantum yoga technique" makes it "more" yoga than it necessarily already is. What's that joke that quantum theorists tell? That if you claim to know quantum mechanics, you don't know quantum mechanics? Even Schroedinger meant his dead cat analogy as a tease rather than a principle. This is why I'm a bit skeptical about the use of "quantum event detectors," however big-govt-budget they may be. I mean, we do have some handle on quantum mechanics- enough to be able to predict (or just identify?) quantum events. But to have a handle on "quantum random..." Again, I defer to the possibility that we simply don't have the capacity to measure phenomena, and that that inability is often sufficient to qualify as random.

    Randomness just doesn't seem to have the same "substance" as physical processes. It's not like gravity or evolution or tectonic plate movement that we have measurements and evidence for. It's more just a measure of our own capacity to predict: random = (currently) unpredictable. "We can't predict what's next? Well, then it's random." It's like just a way of talking about it rather than an actual force of nature. Possibility itself isn't a proof of randomness. Possibility always ends up tending toward, well, tendencies- toward probability.

    Although your IRL friend may be able to identify "patterns of randomness"- i.e., that it does indeed involve clustered results- my own frequency results in BG rerolls are often enough actually straight-up 1 per 10 minutes rather than an average: with no clustering at all. The game is faking random! It's like clusters are just as randomized as non-clusters. Who'da thunk it?

    @bengoshi
    You actually hit the "promote" thingy for my silly self-deprecating dialog? XD Merry Solstice!

    PS. Btw, as in the dialog I wrote, I did actually get a STR18/01-50 score with my 90+ total rolls seven times in a row (and I continue to get them more regularly). So I've exposed the conspira- I mean, so I do have cause to wonder. When calculated, rolling a 50/50 roll on one side for seven times straight is a .78% chance. So, really? I rolled less than a 1% chance roll just to be entirely to my own detriment? If I'm going to roll a rare score, why does it have to be the lowest possible score??? This game is fixed!! I'm telling the Better Business Bureau. They'll listen...

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovArdul
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095
    I do not think randomness is a real thing; merely a name for a pattern we cannot pin down. We have definitive proof that we are uncertain about the world--but we do not have definite proof that the world itself is uncertain. And for what it's worth, the concept of randomness violates the principle of natural causality, and the latter has a much more solid foundation.

    We have quantum systems which we find impossible to predict. That's not an indication of randomness in the universe; that's an indication of ignorance in ourselves. I'm tempted to think the quantum event detectors are not truly random. Rather, they're just more complex versions of the same RNG methods we've used in the past: hard to predict, but not really random.

    JuliusBorisov
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 20,187
    @Bhryaen You know you've played too much Baldur's Gate when you start talking to Random.

    TymakerBhryaen
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    @semiticgod - a lot of physicists (probably a current majority) would tell you that you're just plain wrong on all counts, although there are also physicists who would tell you that you're only wrong on some counts.

    I do not think randomness is a real thing; merely a name for a pattern we cannot pin down.

    If there is no true randomness anywhere, then either

    1) absolute determinism applies, meaning that everything (including, for example, even the thoughts you're having as you read this post) has been been exactly and unalterably pre-determined since the beginning of time (so free will is entirely illusory, among other corollaries); or

    2) there is indeed a transcendental omnipotent God, who every moment is consciously controlling the operation of the physical universe by miraculously re-writing the outcomes of individual sub-atomic events which would otherwise have been pre-determined.

    Take your pick.

    We have definitive proof that we are uncertain about the world--but we do not have definite proof that the world itself is uncertain.

    So far as "proof" can mean anything in the physical world, yes we do have proof that the world is uncertain. That's not absolute proof in the sense of pure mathematics, but it's stronger "proof" than (for example) the standards of a law court.

    Of course if you opt for the hypothesis that a transcendental omnipotent God is re-writing the universe moment by moment, then you can say that He is merely producing whatever (false) appearance of reality He wants us to see ... but in that case, you're effectively accusing God of deceiving us, and He might not take kindly to that accusation.

    And for what it's worth, the concept of randomness violates the principle of natural causality, and the latter has a much more solid foundation.

    There has been serious debate over the nature of causality, and physicists do have different interpretations of how it works. But yes, there is a problem reconciling true randomness with classical causality, and some interpretations of quantum mechanics therefore explicitly reject classical causality.

    We have quantum systems which we find impossible to predict. That's not an indication of randomness in the universe; that's an indication of ignorance in ourselves.

    Not if you suppose that there's any validity to the last century of experimental sub-atomic physics. Evidence continues to accumulate that the theorists are correct, that there is indeed true underlying randomness, and that unpredictability is therefore inherent in the nature of physical reality, not merely due to human incompetence.

    Of course there's always some possibility that some amazing new theory will turn all this on its head, just as quantum theory stunningly demolished classical physics a hundred years ago. However, that doesn't seem like a large possibility, and we can only judge by the knowledge currently available to us, which says pretty decisively that the quantum theorists are right.

    BelgarathMTHArdul
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095
    Semantics in spoilers to avoid cluttering the thread.
    [spoiler]

    If there is no true randomness anywhere, then either

    1) absolute determinism applies, meaning that everything (including, for example, even the thoughts you're having as you read this post) has been been exactly and unalterably pre-determined since the beginning of time (so free will is entirely illusory, among other corollaries); or

    2) there is indeed a transcendental omnipotent God, who every moment is consciously controlling the operation of the physical universe by miraculously re-writing the outcomes of individual sub-atomic events which would otherwise have been pre-determined.

    Take your pick.

    I pick the first. Did you think I'd find either of these impossible? Just because you find these implausible does not mean they disprove my point. It just means my assumptions lead to conclusions you find implausible.


    There has been serious debate over the nature of causality, and physicists do have different interpretations of how it works. But yes, there is a problem reconciling true randomness with classical causality, and some interpretations of quantum mechanics therefore explicitly reject classical causality.

    I know there's a debate. I'm on one side of it. You later claim that modern quantum physics "decisively" contradicts my claim, but here, you acknowledge there is ongoing debate ("different interpretations," "some interpretations").


    Evidence continues to accumulate that the theorists are correct, that there is indeed true underlying randomness, and that unpredictability is therefore inherent in the nature of physical reality, not merely due to human incompetence.

    Neither of us has described the evidence for or against. You merely state it to exist. I know it's there, although it's probably outside the scope of discussion. The theories we hear from modern physicists are translations of complex calculations for which we have no words, or experiments with particles whose behavior only a physicist would understand. Our vocabulary is limited here. At any rate, you already claimed there was debate on this--that these questions are not settled.

    The basic problem we posed earlier in this discussion is that truly random systems are impossible to predict, because true randomness has no pattern. Physicists have found systems we cannot predict. This is perfectly in line with my argument: that something we already know (human ignorance) explains something we are more recently finding (unpredictability).


    Not if you suppose that there's any validity to the last century of experimental sub-atomic physics

    I do believe there's validity to the last century of experimental sub-atomic physics. I just don't believe every conclusion that has been drawn. @Gallowglass, you suggesting I reject, or would have to reject, "any validity" to modern physics is a strawman. I have said there is one single thing--uncertainty in the universe itself--that I disagree with. I agree with other findings. Wave-particle duality, the influence of neutrinos, the warping of space-time by gravity, relativity... these are not things I disagree with.

    The last century of physics research does not reject my claim, particularly since you yourself mentioned that there was debate on these subjects. But here, you say the last century disproves my claim. Your previous statement, that scientists have not formed a consensus, contradicts this.

    Of course there's always some possibility that some amazing new theory will turn all this on its head, just as quantum theory stunningly demolished classical physics a hundred years ago. However, that doesn't seem like a large possibility, and we can only judge by the knowledge currently available to us, which says pretty decisively that the quantum theorists are right. [italics mine]

    You could have said
    "There's always some possibility that a new theory will turn all this on its head, just as quantum theory overturned classical physics"
    and avoided using a condescending tone. None of the parts I italicized were very polite, or necessary.

    My basic problem with your response:
    First, you say scientists are still arguing over these things, indicating that my opinion is not the whole story. This is true.
    Later, you claim scientists have proven me wrong. This is not true. The debate is ongoing.
    [/spoiler]

    BelgarathMTHBhryaen
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    Bhryaen said:

    Are you a statistician or mathematician or something?

    I was, but then I became an I.T. guy instead.
    Bhryaen said:

    I'm not sure about the position of those who assert that randomness is a physical entity.

    See previous post.
    Bhryaen said:

    There's a lot of hype using the term "quantum," as if by simply calling something a "quantum yoga technique" makes it "more" yoga than it necessarily already is.

    Yes indeed, there's lots of marketing BS out there!
    Bhryaen said:

    What's that joke that quantum theorists tell? That if you claim to know quantum mechanics, you don't know quantum mechanics?

    Yes, that derives from a remark by Richard Feynman. He was arguably the greatest quantum theorist of his time, and yet he said:

    "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics" (Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 1965.)

    The point of Feynman's comment is not that it's so difficult to understand what quantum mechanics says, it's the more serious difficulty of getting our heads around what quantum mechanics means in the macroscopic reality, because of all the counter-intuitive philosophical implications that the universe is not what it seems to be.
    Bhryaen said:

    Even Schroedinger meant his dead cat analogy as a tease rather than a principle.

    Well, in the sense that he deliberately expressed his point in a somewhat humorous manner to make it more accessible, yes ... but nevertheless it was about a genuine problem of principle, and different interpretations of quantum mechanics continue to give different answers to the issue.
    Bhryaen said:

    I mean, we do have some handle on quantum mechanics- enough to be able to predict (or just identify?) quantum events.

    Identify, yes. Predict, only in the sense of a statistical likelihood of how often an event will occur among a large population of similar potential events, not at all in the sense of which particular instances will be the ones which do (or don't) happen at any particular time. That's the point of randomness.
    Bhryaen said:

    But to have a handle on "quantum random..." Again, I defer to the possibility that we simply don't have the capacity to measure phenomena, and that that inability is often sufficient to qualify as random.

    See previous post.
    Bhryaen said:

    Randomness just doesn't seem to have the same "substance" as physical processes.

    Agreed, but how things "seem" to casual observation and common sense is not actual evidence. Thousands of careful experiments over the last century have built up a lot of evidence that casual observation and common sense are wrong.
    Bhryaen said:

    It's not like gravity or evolution or tectonic plate movement that we have measurements and evidence for.

    Gravity is another thorny subject, a great problem in modern physics because general relativity (current explanation of gravity) and quantum mechanics (current explanation of everything else) don't fit together at all comfortably. There's a whole series of Nobel Prizes awaiting the guys who develop a satisfactory "theory of everything" to reconcile the galactic-scale and sub-atomic-scale evidence, but it hasn't been done yet.

    Nevertheless, we have plenty of measurements and evidence of quantum-scale events, just as we do for macroscopic events which can be seen with the naked eye.
    Bhryaen said:

    It's more just a measure of our own capacity to predict: random = (currently) unpredictable.

    No. True randomness requires inherent unpredictability, not merely current inability.
    Bhryaen said:

    "We can't predict what's next? Well, then it's random." It's like just a way of talking about it rather than an actual force of nature.

    Well, in casual conversation, yes, people often use words rather loosely.
    Bhryaen said:

    Possibility itself isn't a proof of randomness. Possibility always ends up tending toward, well, tendencies- toward probability.

    When possibility can't be reduced to a definite yes or no by better analysis, then that is a proof of randomness. However, in casual conversation, of course it's merely a confession of ignorance rather than inherent unknowability.
    Bhryaen said:

    ... my own frequency results in BG rerolls are often enough actually straight-up 1 per 10 minutes rather than an average: with no clustering at all. The game is faking random! It's like clusters are just as randomized as non-clusters. Who'da thunk it?

    I'd expect the game code to be faking randomness by one of the methods previously discussed ... but yes, of course it's possible that the game is doing it by some very shoddy technique which easily repeats.

    BelgarathMTHBhryaen
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095


    The point of Feynman's comment is not that it's so difficult to understand what quantum mechanics says, it's the more serious difficulty of getting our heads around what quantum mechanics means in the macroscopic reality, because of all the counter-intuitive philosophical implications that the universe is not what it seems to be.
    ...
    Thousands of careful experiments over the last century have built up a lot of evidence that casual observation and common sense are wrong.

    This is a very critical detail. Our minds evolved to handle a certain set of basic, classical physics-oriented concepts, the kind of principles that help us understand how to cook a meal or design a bow or maintain a fire or build a house. It should stand to reason that quantum mechanics gives us counter-intuitive or even nonsensical results, because our brains aren't designed to understand particle physics or the like.

    We can expect common sense to hold up to scrutiny when we're examining things with the naked eye or some simple instruments. But when we're busting up the basic bits of matter in particle accelerators and "viewing" events that only exist for less than the blink of an eye, that kind of thing is too alien to our experience for us to grasp intuitively.

    Gallowglass
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    @semiticgod - I don't see the need to hide the discussion in spoiler tags, but I'll do so since you prefer that.
    [spoiler]

    I pick the first. Did you think I'd find either of these impossible? Just because you find these implausible does not mean they disprove my point. It just means my assumptions lead to conclusions you find implausible.

    I didn't actually say whether or not I find those alternatives impossible or even implausible, I was simply inviting you to nail your philosophical colours to the mast as to where you stood. And fine, you have done so.

    As it happens, I find the second alternative more plausible than the first. Partly that's because the second alternative avoids the logical inevitability of randomness but remains compatible with the existence of randomness.

    I know there's a debate. I'm on one side of it. You later claim that modern quantum physics "decisively" contradicts my claim, but here, you acknowledge there is ongoing debate ("different interpretations," "some interpretations").

    I acknowledged that there has been debate, and involving multiple views rather than just two sides, but the grounds for disagreement narrow as evidence accumulates. There are still fierce differences of interpretation, but I don't think there's a side still standing which denies fundamental randomness.

    Neither of us has described the evidence for or against. You merely state it to exist. I know it's there, although it's probably outside the scope of discussion. The theories we hear from modern physicists are translations of complex calculations for which we have no words, or experiments with particles whose behavior only a physicist would understand. Our vocabulary is limited here. At any rate, you already claimed there was debate on this--that these questions are not settled.

    Some major questions remain, but the whole point of assembling experimental evidence is to settle questions, step by step. We've learned a lot over the century, and some questions are now considered settled.

    Hot off the press just this year, in a highly relevant example, is unequivocal evidence that Bell's Inequality is demonstrably violated in a reproducible real-world experiment (which means that Einstein's objection to quantum completeness was flat-out wrong).

    I do believe there's validity to the last century of experimental sub-atomic physics. I just don't believe every conclusion that has been drawn. @Gallowglass, you suggesting I reject, or would have to reject, "any validity" to modern physics is a strawman.

    Okay, fair point.

    I have said there is one single thing--uncertainty in the universe itself--that I disagree with. I agree with other findings. Wave-particle duality, the influence of neutrinos, the warping of space-time by gravity, relativity... these are not things I disagree with.

    I don't think you can do that. Yes, relativity and gravitational warping you can have without randomness, I agree, and indeed they're two sides of the same coin. However, wave-particle duality is a wholly quantum-mechanical concept based on individual sub-atomic "particles" existing as unrealised probability densities (i.e. inherent true randomness), which is surely meaningless in a superdeterministic universe.

    The last century of physics research does not reject my claim, particularly since you yourself mentioned that there was debate on these subjects. But here, you say the last century disproves my claim. Your previous statement, that scientists have not formed a consensus, contradicts this.

    Scientists have not formed a consensus about exactly what it all means, far from it, but (as I said above) the ground for disagreement has narrowed as evidence has built up. The weight of evidence for randomness has become very substantial, and enough to say yes, determinism is a pretty busted theory.

    You could have said
    "There's always some possibility that a new theory will turn all this on its head, just as quantum theory overturned classical physics"
    and avoided using a condescending tone.

    Okay, sorry. My intention was emphatic rather than offensive.

    Later, you claim scientists have proven me wrong. This is not true. The debate is ongoing.

    A debate is ongoing, but not this debate. I don't think any scientists still talk about classical superdeterminism except as a straw man to knock down, an example of something which has already been demolished by evidence.[/spoiler]

    semiticgodBelgarathMTH
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356

    This is a very critical detail. Our minds evolved to handle a certain set of basic, classical physics-oriented concepts, the kind of principles that help us understand how to cook a meal or design a bow or maintain a fire or build a house. It should stand to reason that quantum mechanics gives us counter-intuitive or even nonsensical results, because our brains aren't designed to understand particle physics or the like.

    We can expect common sense to hold up to scrutiny when we're examining things with the naked eye or some simple instruments. But when we're busting up the basic bits of matter in particle accelerators and "viewing" events that only exist for less than the blink of an eye, that kind of thing is too alien to our experience for us to grasp intuitively.

    Aha! I'm glad to find that we entirely agree on this point.

    semiticgod
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095
    @Gallowglass: I put the semantics in spoilers because it wouldn't be particularly interesting to most people who might read the thread. I do this a lot for stuff that I think people might want to be able to skip over easily.

    The wave particle duality as I've heard it explained is compatible with determinism. One idea is that matter "propagates as a wave" but "collapses into a particle" on contact with something, as an old professor of mine put it. So its state changes over time, hence the duality. Another, from my dad, is that particles exist across a very small span of space, that it occupies an area rather than a point or a probabilistic spread. Both help explain the wonky behavior of matter, without requiring that the universe be uncertain about the state of matter.

    One might also claim that the confusion over whether matter exists as waves or particles is due to our definitions: it's not that matter exists in an indeterminate state between a wave and a particle, but that neither our definition of a particle nor our definition of a wave is a good fit. It fits aspects of both--not because there's something uncertain about the matter, but because our definitions are too narrow. There are, after all, only so many words in our language.

    BelgarathMTH
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,502
    This is fascinating to read. I don't have enough background to contribute meaningfully, but I'm learning a lot by reading about two schools of thought on randomness and quantum physics debated by two people with obvious backgrounds in the subject.

    @semiticgod , Reading between the lines of your posting, I'm detecting some veiled religious motivation for your arguments. Mentioning "God" in a debate like this is a red flag to me. In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, have you studied or have an interest in theology? Specifically, does your bias towards defending hard determinism have something to do with being a believer in a Calvinistic or Calvin-influenced Christian religion? Or do you perhaps have some other religious belief that requires that the universe be determined without randomness? I'm not attacking your position or religion, if you have one, but I think you should disclose if such a belief is underlying or influencing your thinking process.

    JuliusBorisov
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 14,095
    @BelgarathMTH: Nope. Atheist. Determinism based on the laws of physics, not the will of God.

    I'm not the one who mentioned God; @Gallowglass brought it up.

    Gallowglass
  • BhryaenBhryaen Member Posts: 2,874
    And these are the sorts of thoughts that go through my mind when staring intently at the Total Roll count for hours... XD Still haven't rolled a good enough FMT either...

    @Gallowglass
    You mean, by taking the position that there is no actual random, I've unwittingly been endorsing the credo of "God did it"? *grumble* So "random" is the (more) scientific term for "free will," eh? I'm trying to find a way around this, but...

    There was a great test done in recent years in which a test subject (human) was hooked up to brain activity sensors and asked a question but given some seconds to decide on the answer. Using the sensory data a computer "predicted" the answer well before it was given in most (if not all) cases. So as randomly as folks thought they'd be answering, they were quite predictable. Does this mean even human thought is predetermined? Dunno. But at least you mentioned two explanations- one scientific, one anthropomorphic (religious)... of which the latter always tends so far to the absurd that it only remains in the running because of the oh-so-convincing "Anything's possible" (uttered while backing away slowly and looking for the exit...)

    The universe does appear to be a balance/ harmony between order (structure, laws, etc.) and freedom (fluidity, motion, etc.), but I'm not sure if randomness is the fullest expression of freedom. Normally the award for that position goes to "chaos," not "random," and I'm not a subscriber to the existence of chaos either. It's like the word "nothing": it's a term, and we get an understanding using it, but in fact, "nature abhors a vacuum" and even in the seeming vacuum of space there technically isn't "nothing" there. Perhaps randomness is oranges-to-apples with "nothing," but to presume it seems anti-scientific: randomness is, as you say, "inherently" unpredictable, there is no evidence for it, nothing measurable, nothing reproducible. This is exactly what science abhors and exactly what flags a contention as inept as official theory. Unpredictability is, after all, just a negation of predictability, not a thing in itself. Positing a "non-universe" just because we can compose such a term doesn't seem any more meaningful. And that "seeming" is more than mere common sense: it isn't logically or evidentially substantiable.

    Ah, but you actually state: "When possibility can't be reduced to a definite yes or no by better analysis, then that is a proof of randomness." I was more convinced by the argument that if there's no randomness, then everything has been predetermined since the inception of the universe. This "proof" argument relies on human beings being able to "reduce to a definite yes or no by better analysis..." which is a measure of human ability, not of a physical entity or a process in the universe... and isn't sufficiently determined yet (since we're still trying after all (or scientists are anyway- heh)) and relies on current human methods of analysis... not to mention relies on the tendency toward reductionism. Humans being able or not to reasonably interpret data about the universe doesn't affect the nature of the universe, just our interpretative model and approach (though quantum mechanics does seem to change with our methods of analysis (double-slit experiment and all))... which is kinda what I was saying about the discursive nature of the term random. So I'm not ready to say to the universe, "Yeah, I know there's random in you, buddy- gig's up-" on the basis of my own inability to quantify possibility. There may simply be another dynamic I'm failing to comprehend: complexity.

    Having read your interaction with @semiticgod I see that the notion of random as a thing is apparently now presumed by scientists (physicists), but I still don't understand how they're convinced. I'm not comfortable with the "all-is-predetermined" approach either, however, so I'm reserving judgment until I can figure out a way of undermining it more effectively (*evil grin*). That'll require more beer... and maybe some years of contemporary physics theory...

    semiticgodBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • GallowglassGallowglass Member Posts: 3,356
    Bhryaen said:

    You mean, by taking the position that there is no actual random, I've unwittingly been endorsing the credo of "God did it"?

    Well, not quite. I did also offer the alternative of everything being absolutely pre-determined. But there are no other choices.
    Bhryaen said:

    So "random" is the (more) scientific term for "free will," eh?

    Well, that's a bit of a leap. Randomness and free will aren't the same thing, and the nature of free will has scientists pretty well stumped so far, but it seems clear that there there's no room for free will in absolute determinism, so either free will must somehow be dependent upon randomness or (again) God did it (or a bit of both).
    Bhryaen said:

    ... So as randomly as folks thought they'd be answering, they were quite predictable. Does this mean even human thought is predetermined? Dunno.

    I'm not convinced this is as relevant as it might at first appear. I haven't seen the detail on this experiment, but it's not surprising if brain activity is often detectably different as the brain formulates one answer rather than another - it's easy to demonstrate different areas of the brain lighting up as different sensory associations trigger, etc. So no, this doesn't demonstrate determinism, it probably just shows that different people's brains work fairly similarly to one another.
    Bhryaen said:

    The universe does appear to be a balance/ harmony between order (structure, laws, etc.) and freedom (fluidity, motion, etc.), but I'm not sure if randomness is the fullest expression of freedom. Normally the award for that position goes to "chaos," not "random," and I'm not a subscriber to the existence of chaos either.

    For sure, chaos is a much fuller expression of freedom, but randomness is a necessary pre-condition for chaos. ("Otherwise it wouldn't be chaos, would it?" - Adoy.)
    Bhryaen said:

    ... randomness is, as you say, "inherently" unpredictable, there is no evidence for it, nothing measurable, nothing reproducible.

    No, no, that's not what I'm saying. It's just the individual instances which are inherently unpredictable in a random system, but the overall outcome can have a statistical pattern which is highly predictable and reproducible (over a sufficiently large number of random events), and there can be good evidence (after the fact) of even each individual event, and (again after the event) each event can be accurately measurable.

    Think of tossing a coin (just supposing for the moment that you stipulate that it were a genuinely random process). You can reliably predict that over a large number of tests you'll approach a 50/50 split of heads and tails, the evidence for each toss is that you can see the coin flying through the air, the result of each toss is measured by seeing either a head or a tail, and you can conduct another long series of coin tosses and again get the result that it's darn close to 50/50. So (statistical) predictability, (individual) evidence, (individual) measurement, and (statistical) reproducibility are all present ... but you still have no idea whether the next toss will be a head or a tail. The randomness is all in the inherent unpredictability of individual component events.
    Bhryaen said:

    Unpredictability is, after all, just a negation of predictability, not a thing in itself.

    Ah, but is that so? One might (and I would) argue the opposite, that predictability is merely the accumulation of a sufficiently large number of random events that the overall outcome is a safe bet ... like betting that if you toss that coin a lot of times, then the result will be close to 50/50. I'd therefore contend that the unpredictability is the underlying reality, out of which predictability is merely an emergent statistic.
    Bhryaen said:

    Ah, but you actually state: "When possibility can't be reduced to a definite yes or no by better analysis, then that is a proof of randomness." I was more convinced by the argument that if there's no randomness, then everything has been predetermined since the inception of the universe. This "proof" argument relies on human beings being able to "reduce to a definite yes or no by better analysis..." which is a measure of human ability, not of a physical entity or a process in the universe

    Heavens no, you're getting it completely the wrong way around. If it "can't be reduced ... by better analysis" then that means that better analysis can't do any better, so it is proof (in the rigorous scientific sense) of fundamental uncertainty. This has nothing to do with human limitations, it's about when a thing is actually impossible.
    Bhryaen said:

    ... relies on the tendency toward reductionism.

    Of course. The scientific method is reductionist to the core.
    Bhryaen said:

    So I'm not ready to say to the universe, "Yeah, I know there's random in you, buddy- gig's up-" on the basis of my own inability to quantify possibility. There may simply be another dynamic I'm failing to comprehend: complexity.

    That's your privilege.
    Bhryaen said:

    Having read your interaction with @semiticgod I see that the notion of random as a thing is apparently now presumed by scientists (physicists), but I still don't understand how they're convinced. I'm not comfortable with the "all-is-predetermined" approach either, however, so I'm reserving judgment until I can figure out a way of undermining it more effectively (*evil grin*). That'll require more beer... and maybe some years of contemporary physics theory...

    Well, yes, quantum physics is difficult material, it takes some studying.

    How they're convinced, though, is basically by the argument that those theories which continue to offer explanations which fit the observed facts of their ever-expanding experimental results, are theories which assert that there is some underlying true randomness in quantum events. When no-one can think of any other viable explanation (and some serious geniuses have tried), then the explanation that still works looks pretty darn convincing.

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