"Monkeys are not random generators."

I was unaware of this important research from 2003:

Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, the theory goes, and they will eventually produce prose the likes of Shakespeare.

A group of faculty and students in the university's media program left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. Then, they waited.

At first, said Phillips, "the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it. "Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard," added Phillips, who runs the university's Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies.

Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in.

Read the complete text here: Notes Towards The Complete Works of Shakespeare by Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe & Rowan.

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7 Responses:

  1. Martin says:

    The PDF link at the bottom has a stray space in it.

  2. Pavel Lishin says:

    Well, shit, there goes my new monkey-driven-random-numbers-as-a-service startup.

  3. thielges says:

    Humans and probably all primates are really poor at being random. The best rock-paper-scissors players are those who can keep their internal biases in check.

  4. DaveL says:

    It was a little dull at first but by "avalav" I was hooked.

  5. Ben Rosengart says:

    So they managed to replicate Usenet in a lab environment?

  6. David Ashby says:

    Additional prior art: Words, Words, Words

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