The Challenge of True Randomness in Computers

PySphere R&D Lab
2 min readDec 5, 2023

In the realm of computers, achieving true randomness is a complex task that remains elusive. While computers can generate pseudo-random numbers, their deterministic nature and reliance on external input prevent them from attaining genuine unpredictability. This sets them apart from the enigmatic nature of human behavior, which can exhibit randomness without any external influence. Let’s explore why computers struggle to be truly random and the implications of this limitation.

The Illusion of Randomness:

Computers are deterministic machines, following predefined algorithms. Pseudo-random numbers, often mistaken for true randomness, are generated through mathematical algorithms. However, if we know the initial seed value, we can predict the entire sequence of numbers generated, highlighting the deterministic nature of computers.

External Input and Predictability:

Computers require external input, known as entropy sources, to seed their pseudo-random number generators. These sources can include mouse movements, keyboard inputs, or network traffic. However, the generated randomness is ultimately determined by the computer’s algorithms and processes. In contrast, humans can generate randomness without any external input, making their behavior more unpredictable, even with complete knowledge of their inputs.

Limitations and Implications:

The deterministic nature of computers and their reliance on external input limit their ability to achieve true randomness. This has significant implications for security-sensitive applications, such as encryption, where predictable random numbers can compromise the system’s security.

The Quest for True Randomness:

Researchers are exploring various approaches to enhance computer-generated randomness. These include leveraging physical phenomena or quantum phenomena to introduce genuine unpredictability. However, the challenge remains complex and ongoing.

Conclusion:

Computers, with their deterministic nature and dependence on external input, cannot achieve true randomness. In contrast, human behavior exemplifies the enigmatic nature of genuine randomness. While efforts to enhance computer-generated randomness continue, the quest for true randomness reminds us of the complexity of human cognition and behavior.

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