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Randonautica, the latest craze to consume Gen Z, is an app that has led to a group of teens finding a dead body, another boy finding a grave with his last name on it and a teenaged girl reportedly witnessing a person get fatally shot.
The app launched earlier this year, but started gaining more mainstream traction when the world went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The basic premise of the app is to encourage users to explore “blind spots” in their so-called consciousness, but before they set off on their explorations, the user, dubbed a Randonaut, is urged to set an intention.
When the app prompts a Randonaut to set an intention, it’s asking the user to think of something he or she hopes to encounter while exploring the area. Before venturing out, a person might think, for example, about dogs, intending or hoping to see a dog. Another person could set their intention as guidance, or even the colour orange. There are no rules as to what a person can set as an intention.
Where the user goes is determined by a quantum random number generator.
What the heck is a quantum random number generator, you ask, reader?
Well, to keep it simple, there are random number generators (RNGs) and quantum random number generators (QRNGs). A simple random number generator can return a random sequence of numbers, however the results are not considered truly random. That’s because random number generators run by computers, which are inherently deterministic, have limits and predetermined number sequences that the generator spits out.
Quantum generators, on the other hand, are thought to produce a sequence of numbers that are truly considered random because the generator is powered by a quantum computer. (Computer scientists and physicists, yes, I know there’s a lot more to this but for the sake of being pithy, this is the explanation we’re going with.)
Once the QRNG in the app spits out a number, it’s converted into a set of GPS coordinates that are usually about a 10 to 20 minute drive from the Randonaut’s location.
In essence, the app reportedly uses a high-level bot to spit out a set of coordinates that are supposed to be considered truly random. The whole idea is to allow the user to explore “mind-matter interactions,” a concept in which some believe the human mind has power or can influence objects around it, including computers, according to the app’s website . The website points to research done on mind-matter interactions by scientists at Princeton University, called the Global Consciousness Project, which started in the late 1990s. Its aim was to determine if psychokinesis exists, that humans’ consciouses could influence events and that everyday randomness that exists could be disrupted based on a “global consciousness”
Trying to hack the Matrix
The research project has been discredited and criticized by other scientists, who said the data produced had no real significance. A British physicist said in 2009 the unreliability of significant events to cause statistically significant jumps in the data means that “the only conclusion to emerge from the Global Consciousness Project so far is that data without a theory is as meaningless as words without a narrative”
The app purports that if a Randonaut sets an intention before generating a quantum random point, the point generated will actually lead the Randonaut to a place where they can find their intention.
In some discussions, Randonauts report that they’ve seen so-called glitches in the “Matrix,” such as this front staircase that leads to a brick wall.
The Randonauting community was initially very active on Reddit and Twitter, before the teens of TikTok took it over. The app is marketed as a “choose your own adventure reality game” but the creators don’t mean reality as in reality TV, but as in one’s own conscious and lived reality.
Reddit versus TikTok
On Reddit, Randonauts tend to set their intentions as rather benign thoughts. One user said they had set their intention as anything to do with their best friend who committed suicide two years ago. The user then said they came across a raven feather on their explorations and believed the intention came true, as the best friend said her spirit animal was a raven.
Another Reddit-Randonautica user set their intent as “something unexplainable.” Well, after being sent to the QRNG point, they came across an abandoned couch chair in the middle of a wide field.
Again, a quick search for the top posts on the Randonauts subreddit pulls more positive results: a user finding a swamp after setting their intention as Shrek , another person coming across beautiful scenery after setting their intention as something magical and another user who found a random red couch in an open area near some trees after setting his or her intent as “red.”
Meanwhile on TikTok, when searching through hashtags #Randonautica, #Randonaut or #Randonauting, the top videos are often centred around paranormal or dangerous situations where the fear factor is dialled all the way up. Users tend to hype up their explorations, tacking on eerie music and sometimes posting a video in parts to leave users with cliffhanger endings.
In one video , a girl is in a car with one of her friends, presumably, and she is filming through her rearview window. In the distance, illuminated by headlights, a man appears to be approaching the car in the night while the two girls freak out.
In another video , a teenaged girl claims she set her intention as death and then saw a man in a gutter, with his wife on top of him, get shot. The user was driving in a car, in tears, as she filmed the video.
In another TikTok , a young man goes into the woods on his ATV, not telling the audience his intention. He comes across an old, abandoned car that’s surrounded by immature trees. Off camera, a “help me” is heard and the man sprints away.
With Randonautica experiences posted to TikTok, the ease of video editing native to the app can make it tempting to play up the theatrics. The veracity of the experiences is, in fact, no more true on Reddit, as it’s difficult to tell a person’s true intentions.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020