A Million Virtual Monkeys Almost Wrote A Shakespeare Poem. What Did You Do Today?


To say these virtual monkeys actually wrote a Shakespeare poem might stretch credibility a bit. Thanks to a program written by Jesse Anderson, 99.99% of the random words in “A Lover’s Complaint” were hammered out by virtual monkeys and then placed in order by the program.

Mr Anderson’s virtual monkeys are small computer programs uploaded to Amazon servers. These coded apes regularly pump out random sequences of text. Each sequence is nine characters long and each is checked to see if that string of characters appears anywhere in the works of Shakespeare. If not, it is discarded. If it does match then progress has been made towards re-creating the works of the Bard.

No real or virtual monkey actually typed out, in order, word for word, a poem by the Bard. Nor will one ever do so.

“Why, Todd, why would you say such a thing?” Well, first, it’s statistically impossible. The universe will end before such an event could happen. Second, monkeys are terrible typists. Everyone knows that. Third, no one even makes typewriters anymore, so where are these millions and billions of typewriters going to come from? I call that Shakespeare – 3 and Monkeys – 0.


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