A computer programmer named Jesse Anderson has set up millions of virtual typing monkeys, who in less than two months have completed 99.99% of Shakespeare’s repertoire.
The method Anderson is using seems a bit like cheating to me – the eMonkeys produce random 9-letter strings, and if the strings appear anywhere in Shakespeare they’re saved and counted toward that 99.99%. I’ll leave that criticism for the statisticians, though, as it was the throwaway at the end of the article that really grabbed my attention:
In 2003 the Arts Council for England paid £2,000 for a real-life test of the [infinite monkey] 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.
I wonder if they would’ve done a better job knowing that they could be replaced with computers.