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2.4 Irrelevances to the debate

2.4.4 Noise and randomness

Noise is a random input into a system's processes. Such randomness can be defined in several ways. It can be any sufficiently variable data which originates from outside the scope of a system's model of its world, and is thus unpredictable. It can be data which passes a series of statistical tests. It can be a pattern which is incompressible by a Turing machine.

In any case there are fully deterministic processes which produce sequences that are practically indistinguishable from random ones from any particular system's point of view. Thus a system with noise can be simulated by a model with the addition of such a process, such that the system does not have full access to the workings of that process.

In the opposite direction a noiseless system can be arbitrarily approximated by one that has noise, by suitable redundancy in its construction. This is how we maintain information in digital computers and our own genome.

Pragmatic Holism - Bruce Edmonds - 22 FEB 96
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