Menu

Technology

The Works of Shakespeare, Produced by Millions of 'Amazonian Monkeys'

Simpsons Monkeys

Could a million monkeys with typewriters produce the works of Shakespeare?Fox/YouTube

This weekend, a million monkeys will recreate a work of Shakespeare, claims programmer and technology enthusiast Jesse Anderson.

Virtual monkeys, that is.

Anderson, a development manager and senior software developer in Nevada, is on the cusp of proving the "infinite monkey" theorem — which loosely states that given an infinite amount of time, even a monkey tapping away at a typewriter could produce the works of Shakespeare.

It's a milestone Anderson hopes to reach in a little over a week.

"I think the monkeys will have completed their first work by this Sunday and the rest over the course of the week after that," he told FoxNews.com.

Without access to real monkeys on typewriters, Anderson instead turned to the virtual jungle, creating an army of computerized monkeys with Amazon’s EC2 cloud service. The e-monkeys are programmed to produce gibberish, mimicking a monkey mashing keys on a keyboard, whereby special software then compares these strings of keystrokes with a given bit of text, Anderson explained to FoxNews.com.

Those mashed keys have combined to create almost the entire of works of Shakespeare. Anderson, who began running the project August 21, believes the first work will be completed Sunday, Sept. 11, while his monkeys will have the whole shebang done and dusted the week after -- probably. 

“I can’t say for certain since it’s purely random,” he told said.

Anderson’s project could lend credence to the age-old theory, which has seen less success in the real world.

In 2003, scientists at the Paignton Zoo and the University of Plymouth, in Devon, England, reportedly left six Sulawesi Crested Macaque monkeys with a computer keyboard for a month. Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five pages consisting largely of the letter S, they began by attacking the keyboard with a stone, then proceeded to urinate and defecate on it.

Anderson, who has had more than a few angry letters from the more mathematically inclined, maintains that this is simply a fun side project. 

“I think I have a sense of humor about it,” he told FoxNews.com. “It’s kind of a tongue in cheek thing.”

With the finish line in site, Anderson already has his sights set on his next project.

“I thought it would be cool to produce as many works of mankind as possible for the next iteration,” Anderson told FoxNews.com.