Monkeys on Typewriters 'Close to Reproducing Shakespeare'

A computer programmer testing the "Infinite Monkey Theorem"—that, with enough time, a monkey randomly mashing a typewriter would eventually type the complete works of Shakespeare—says his virtual monkeys will soon complete the works, way ahead of their infinity deadline!

As "a fun side project," Jesse Anderson created millions of small computer programs that generate "random sequences of nine characters." As each sequence is created, it is compared to Shakespeare's oeuvre; if it matches anywhere, it gets checked off a list. The monkeys have been typing for 35 days, and most recently completed "A Lover's Complaint."

But Anderson's monkeys aren't typing Shakespeare in order, so monkey-literature-ologists aren't sure if it should "count." Also, the one time someone actually hired real monkeys to do the mashing, the sequences weren't even "random," the Daily Telegraph reports:

In 2003 the Arts Council for England paid £2,000 for a real-life test of the theorem involving six Sulawesi crested macaques, but the trial was abandoned after a month.

The monkeys produced five pages of text, mainly composed of the letter S, but failed to type anything close to a word of English, broke the computer and used the keyboard as a lavatory.

Conclusion: Every endeavor described in this story is meaningless, but you will probably use it to make small talk sometime, because you are more monkey than Shakespeare and sometimes lack original thought. We are all monkeys mashing blindly at keyboards today, in a virtual menagerie under Jesse Anderson's control. [Telegraph, Jesse Anderson's Blog, image via ChipPix/Shutterstock.com]