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I’m still here



It has been a while since my last post, I am however, still plugging away at that translation.  In the meanwhile some light fare for consideration.  The topic: itunes shuffle.  The problem: iTunes shuffle is in no way random.  My question: how difficult would it have been for itunes to created a truly random song shuffling algorithm?

I have an stupid amount of music on my computer and most of the time I just want to listed to a random sampling of that, so as you can imagine I use the shuffle option then play from either a specific genre or my entire library.  The result however is that I often get the exact same sequence of songs as previous times.  Give it a try yourself.  select your entire library, turn on shuffle then start playing from the first song on that list, it doesn’t matter how you have them categorized, album by artist, artist, name whatever, just don’t change it mid-experiment.  You don’t have to play the entire song, just skip a few forward remembering their order.  Now go back to the top of the list and double click the first song.  Skip a few songs forward and notice that the same sequence of songs is played.  Try it with a single artist, on different days, reboot your computer, do anything but change the order and contents of your library and you will always get the exact same sequence of songs.  The easy solution to this is to just pick a different song to start from, but this gets old.  Shouldn’t shuffle really, shuffle the songs?

Rather than create a script for iTunes that plays a specific “random” sequence of songs depending on the ordering and size of your library, would it not just be easier for Apple to make a script that randomly generates songs under any circumstances even when the circumstances have not been altered?  My supposition is that randomness in the sense of flipping a coin is not programmable, that there always has to be an logical script for programmed randomness, a script that could be better at hiding itself than itunes’ shuffle script but necessarily exists because of the way in which program languages are written (if/than statements).

My unjustified jump:  Self aware AI is impossible because of this limitation.

I have not proof to back up my thoughts other than what I have observed in iTunes and would appreciate comments.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 15/04/2009 1:18 pm

    Whoa, I didn’t see that coming. I take it you’re enjoying Gödel, Escher, Bach.

    I sympathize with your shuffle-related frustration.

    To discuss your last point I imagine you’d need to start by defining “self-aware” and “AI.”

    My best guess at what you’re saying is, “if consequences can be logically deduced (i.e. a system is deterministic), then self-awareness is impossible (within that system).” I think we’d need to know more about what you think constitutes human intelligence, and the difference between what we do and what machines do, to have any hope of discussing this fruitfully.

  2. 15/04/2009 10:45 pm

    On further thought, you might get significant mileage just by spelling out what you mean by “random” and where “randomness” comes from.

    BTW, I am looking forward to your next chapter.

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