Notes on notes 8

  • December 6, 2013


Most randomly-generated numbers are, in fact, the results of pseudorandom processes. This is because it's fundamentally easier to generate random numbers with purely deterministic, software-defined methods, plus these methods are conceptually simple to replicate. Given the same input (a random seed), the pseudorandom number generator will provide the same output. So when the output absolutely has to be random (or, at least, far more difficult to replicate), random numbers are generated based on stochastic processes in nature. There are dedicated hardware products, Geiger counter-driven approaches, and fancy quantum methods for the task. There was also Lavarand, a random number generator based on a camera pointed at a lava lamp. It was such an effective method that it's still in use by multi-purpose internet company Cloudflare. I think it's more fun to observe other features of the world around us.

I suggest using kittens. A random number generator should depend upon a rapidly-changing, generally unpredictable (within the bounds of our measurement, at least) but otherwise consistently occurring phenomenon. Kittens are consistently popular, to the point that it's nearly an inarguable law of nature. Given the right measurement, we can take advantage of stochasticity in this process to produce random values.

We're gonna need a lot more of these little fuzzballs.

We're gonna need a lot more of these little fuzzballs.

In truth, this is likely a terrible idea and would never be suitable for any security purposes. Using news sources alone also creates some limitations, so in order to make this more fun while still disavowing any suitability for real-world applications whatsoever, we could use results from social media instead. This will have to be a project for a different day. For now, something like quantumrandom will provide true random numbers, though without all the kitten counting.