What does it mean to be random and can anything truly be random?
When something is unpredictable and contains no recognizable patterns we call it “random”. So let’s begin our hunt for the most random thing: a coin toss…
Coin flips and rolling dice are not intrinsically random ;they are only random because of our ignorance.
If we can know every initial condition the exact forces and properties in play for a particular flip or role, we could theoretically calculate the results before it even happens. Scientists have even built coin flipping robots that can precisely control the flip so that they gets the predicted results 100% of the time.
So here’s my question:
Is there anything you cannot predict, even if you knew everything? A process determined by nothing. And how can you be sure there are no patterns in what you are looking at? Maybe you just haven’t looked for the right pattern yet. Or maybe you have already seen true randomness but didn’t know it because you did not look for long enough.
As if protected by a sort of camouflage, a random process can and occasionally will produce predictable results.
The point is, randomness is difficult to identify . It is easier to be certain that something is not random than that it is. But despite this elusiveness, something interesting is going on, right now. Increasingly, we see, especially young people, who were calling clearly predictable things random. Like randomly running into your best friend at a popular restaurant. Those guys that showed up at your favorite restaurant last night that you didn’t know where it just random. They knew about the restaurant, and they felt like eating at the restaurant, and they were in the area. That sounds like it was pretty predictable.
This non-statistical use of the word random annoys some people, but it’s not that far off from the original meaning of the word.
In the 1300’s, random meant running (or at great speed). Later, it would be used to describe things that had no definite purpose.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s that random took on a particular mathematical definition. Then, in the 1970’s, MIT’s student paper popularized the use of the word random to simply mean “strange”.
Of course, just because something is considered strange, does not mean it has no discoverable cause. Why have we started calling so many predictable things random? Many theories revolve around the amount of new information theories and people we are confronted with at an increasing rate, now more than ever before. Perhaps it’s just easier, even a bit of relief to call things random so that we can move on to synthesize other information!!