monkey

Infinite Monkey Theorem has been tried out in real life

The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.

In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys. They left a computer keyboard in the enclosure of six Celebes Crested Macaques in Paignton Zoo in Devon in England for a month, with a radio link to broadcast the results on a website.

Monkey

Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, but the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it. Phillips said that the artist-funded project was primarily performance art, and they had learned “an awful lot” from it. He concluded that monkeys “are not random generators. They’re more complex than that. … They were quite interested in the screen, and they saw that when they typed a letter, something happened. There was a level of intention there.

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