[Avodah] Kosher Switch Really Random?

Micha Berger via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Thu Sep 24 12:03:08 PDT 2015

On Sun, Sep 20, 2015 at 06:12:07PM -0400, Shmuel Weidberg via Avodah wrote:
: I just had a look around the internet to see if there was anything new with
: the Kosher Switch...
: There is an issue with this that would not be known to those who aren't
: computer scientists and that is that computers cannot actually create
: random numbers...

I don't think this particular distinction makes a halachic difference.
The question is whether the person doing the action has a reasonable 
chance of predicting the outcome. Actual mathematical randomness might 
not be at issue. As long as I can't know what my flipping the switch 
would do, I would think it should all be the same.

(Think of it as a first cousin to ignoring water bears and other
zooplankton that can only be seen with a magnifying glass when drinking

: Computer can get real random numbers, by generating the seed by looking at
: actions that take place that the computer cannot predict such as when
: somebody presses a key on a keyboard, or when some other sensor is
: activated...

Actually, that's not really random, just less predictable because the
seed generation is outside the machine. A specially designed can get
truly random numbers by using quantum effects. Such as picking up on
the brownian motion of molecules due to heat.

But really, I don't think we have to worry about the difference between
"random" and "not humanly predictable".

Also a side note: I might point out that there are numerous hashkafos in
which every event, or at least every event that impacts a human being,
is subject to hashgachah peratis. And thus, nothing we ever experience
is actually random. Or alternatively, that the word "random" needs a
different translation.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Man can aspire to spiritual-moral greatness
micha at aishdas.org        which is seldom fully achieved and easily lost
http://www.aishdas.org   again. Fulfillment lies not in a final goal,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      but in an eternal striving for perfection. -RSRH

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