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How blackjack and coin tosses gave rise to the pixel

How blackjack and coin tosses gave rise to the pixel


A video essay on the father of the Information Age

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Thanks to Claude Shannon, you're able to read this article on a screen right now. This loving documentary, from video essay channel Delve, neatly depicts the father of information theory and his early work.

In 1948, Shannon published a paper with a radical idea: all information, everything from an image of a Matisse to the sound of horns on a Sinatra album, can be condensed into a coin toss. All that's required to relay the information is a series of binary answers: a yes a no, a one or a zero, a black pixel or a white pixel. That idea became the backbone of the Information Age.

Despite his contributions, Shannon somehow isn't a household name like, say, Einstein. That's surprising, considering the berth of fields Shannon contributed to. For only one example: after his landmark paper on information theory, Shannon developed the modern strategy for counting cards in blackjack.