Who is the most random US president

By the age of 25, the brains are best geared towards chance

Generating random sequences is not a trivial task for people who want to find order; it takes many years to develop the ability

The generation of really random sequences of numbers is anything but banal. We leave that to the computer programs, construct things like cubes or observe physical processes. Random events, according to the definition, cannot be explained causally and are therefore unpredictable. Our brains are geared towards what can be expected, they infer from the known to the unknown and usually value order. Occasionally, however, the desire for the new or the interest in the inexplicable breaks through.

Being able to behave randomly can be advantageous for living beings, for example when they are hunted by a predator or to discover new or new behavior. Especially in strategic action, for example in warfare, it can be advantageous if the other player or opponent cannot foresee the next steps. At the moment it is popular to wonder whether the policy of US President Donald Trump, who is obviously guided by spontaneous decisions and does not seem to pursue a consistent policy in dealing with conflicts such as with North Korea, could also be an advantage, because Kim Jong- and can't know how far to go. Critics believe that this could result in the other side making ill-considered decisions, i.e. also switching on a random generator or overreacting as a reaction.

Ultimately, the possibility of a free, indeterminate will is also related to the possibility of chance, even if free will, should it exist, could not just be a kind of random generator. Some also assume that creativity or cognitive complexity is made possible by playing with chance.

Scientists have tried to find out at what age people can best choose randomly. There was evidence that the aging process worsens the handling of coincidences and complexity. To test this, as they report in PLOS Computational Biology, in a kind of Turing test, humans and computers compete with one another before a series of tasks in which coincidences were to be generated. The aim was to come up with a series of coin or dice tosses that look random to another person, to arrange black and white stones so that it looks random, or to point ten times in a row to one of nine circles in random order. 3249 test subjects aged 4 to 91 years.

It is one of the most difficult tasks for a cognitive system to generate a random sequence. The scientists say that the complexity of a human-generated pseudo-random sequence can serve as a measure of cognitive performance that is largely independent of exercise and the type of objects used. Not only the perception of complexity, but also the ability for concentrated attention or the performance of short-term memory can be determined: "In order to generate a random sequence of symbols, one must avoid any routine and suppress premature reactions. The suppression of such reactions is a sign of efficient cognitive processing, primarily flexibility, which is presumably related to the prefrontal cortex. "

Gender, language or education do not seem to play a role, but age does. At the age of 25, people seem best able to generate a random result. Until then, they will learn to be able to generate random sequences more precisely and more quickly. Then the ability to persist remains relatively constant in order to lose weight from the age of 60, albeit only slightly. From 70 onwards, the speed remains about the same, but the complexity would decrease drastically. The researchers assume, however, that the decreasing ability to generate randomness is compensated for by other abilities that also influence creativity, for example simply more experience. The randomness was checked with computer programs. The sequences that were the most difficult to reproduce algorithmically were considered to be the most random.

What is actually less interesting about the study is that the cognitive ability to generate pseudo-random sequences declines with age. The fact that a peak in this achievement is only reached at the age of 25, being able to work successfully against the tendency towards repetition and order, shows how difficult the task is. The development of the cognitive ability obviously does not depend on education, but on the accumulation of experience or on having already largely learned the order of the world, so that cognitive freedom can arise to mentally construct the unexpected, which is in younger is only challenged to integrate it into the familiar. Whether the brains that are better at generating random series are also more creative is another question. Violations of rules do not necessarily have to do with generating coincidences. Chance is not necessarily creative, it can just as easily be destructive or confusing. (Florian Rötzer)

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