View Full Version : Plot Device Discussion: Intelligent Randomness

08-11-2011, 11:27 PM
The idea of intelligence emerging from randomness has been going through my head for a while now. As far as I know, this doesn't really show up in fiction (or real life?), but pointers to where it has would cast some perspective. While not the only way to interpret this concept, here is my spin on it:

I imagine a series of books (or movies, manga, etc.) set in the present. In each book, the main character[s] is surprised to receive a package containing a random bit generator (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware_random_number_generator), optionally with instructions or software. Main tries It out and notices the output behaving strangely. Eventually, Main figures out how to communicate with It. It is 'omniscient' and starts manipulating the cast towards some goal once it gains trust, resulting in It being destroyed or sent elsewhere in the end. Each book is an alternate reality, where It has chosen somewhere different for It's mysterious first owner to send It, and each book contains clues revealing more about the first owner. The diabolical goal would also be different each time, like making someone wealthy in order to corrupt a major corporation, creating relationships just to break hearts, or convincing Main to give It autonomous control of a computer to conduct terrorism by hacking.

The versatility of an intelligent, possibly omniscient random bit generator in fiction is ridiculous. This plot device is also slightly philosophical, because as long as the randomness is derived from an inherently random physical process, like beam splitting or radioactive decay (as opposed to deterministic chaos), there is nothing in theory preventing any of the stories from happening in real life. Not practically, but technically this would go under reality fiction, not science fiction.

08-11-2011, 11:33 PM
I'm not sure how randomness can be intelligent. Can you explain?

Soccer Mom
08-11-2011, 11:36 PM
Please don't start duplicate threads. You already started this discussion in the Sandbox, which is probably the best place for it. Locking in 3...2...1...