When we think of artificial intelligence, it tends to be aimed at clarifying things and making them simpler. As noted in our examination of contemporary AI, we engage with this sort of technology every day without thinking about it. Our phone usage, our use of search engines, and so on all expose us to AI in ways that make our day-to-day lives more convenient.
In at least one strange case though, AI – or at least technology somewhat like AI – is designed specifically to complicate things and make them less clear. We’re talking about random number generators, or as they’re sometimes called, RNGs.
An RNG, to be clear, is not strictly an AI so much as a program based on relatively simple code. People educated in or enthusiastic about artificial intelligence may balk at the comparison. At the same time though, an RNG is designed to take human direction to perform a computing task and produce information – intelligently in some respects – that a human cannot produce. It is in a certain sense its own, simple form of AI. And as of now RNGs have a number of specific, useful applications and uses.
Encryption is something most of us don’t worry too much about on a day-to-day basis. And yet it is used constantly, not just in industries that call for high-end security, but even by standard servers that are protecting the data we transfer and rely on constantly. And as MakeUseOf noted in a piece on RNGs in gaming (which we’ll get to more below), certain types of number generators are used in encryption.
That’s not to say that encryption software relies solely on RNGs. There are various types of encryption, and some are more complex and robust than others. Often enough though, fairly straightforward RNGs that can produce complex results are at the heart of digital security measures.
The aforementioned article covering RNGs in gaming also points out that many of the randomized functions that help to make video games work are fundamentally based on RNGs. One example given is that in a Pokémon game, an RNG is used to determine when and how often you’re attacked by a wild Pokémon. In this and other similar RPG games, random number generators also determine if an attack achieves “critical” damage.
Even in some games we might think of as more modern, like open-world adventures and shooters, RNGs are sometimes used as the basis for if and when you’ll be hit by enemy fire. Ultimately the fact is that many of the most beloved video games depend significantly on this technology.
Alongside ordinary video games like Pokémon or first-person shooters, the casino gaming industry on the internet also depends very heavily on RNGs. According to a how-to guide on slot machines by Gala Spins it states that sophisticated RNGs are used in every slot game. In this case, RNGs create fresh sequences every millisecond in order to ensure that spins are truly random and games are fair to players. Given how many millions of people play these slots each and every day all over the world, this is an extremely important application.
For all of these reasons, we’d dub RNGs to be significant tools in modern automation – even if they’re only on the margins of artificial intelligence.