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Old May 10, 2003, 09:20 AM   #1
iWantAMac
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Typing Monkeys Don't Quite Write 'Hamlet'

Typing Monkeys Don't Quite Write 'Hamlet'

Friday, May 09, 2003
Associated Press

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

Give six monkeys one computer for a month, and they will produce a mess.

Researchers at Plymouth University (search) in England reported this week that primates left alone with a computer attacked the machine and failed to produce a single word.

"They pressed a lot of S's," researcher Mike Phillips said Friday. "Obviously, English isn't their first language."

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 (search). 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 not quite literature.

Phillips said the project funded by England's Arts Council rather than by scientific bodies was intended more as performance art than scientific experiment.

The notion that monkeys typing at random will eventually produce literature is often attributed to Thomas Huxley (search), a 19th-century scientist who supported Charles Darwin's theories of evolution. Mathematicians have also used it to illustrate concepts of chance.

The Plymouth experiment was part of the Vivaria Project (search), which plans to install computers in zoos across Europe to study differences between animal and artificial life.

Phillips said the experiment showed 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."


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,86454,00.html



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.


Sounds like they were running Windows.

Last edited by iWantAMac; May 10, 2003 at 09:23 AM.
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Old May 10, 2003, 11:35 AM   #2
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Re: Typing Monkeys Don't Quite Write 'Hamlet'

Quote:
Originally posted by iWantAMac
Sounds like they were running Windows.
Ha! Funny indeed!

I wonder if that infinite amount of monkeys typing on an infinite amount of keyboards could write the perfect OS?

Just a thought...
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Old May 10, 2003, 12:03 PM   #3
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Poor monkey's, leave 'em alone!!
It's like monkey trying to teach humans to jump between trees and do monkey things.

Reminds me of The Lone Gunmen episode (those 3 xfiles hackers) having a supermonkey and he knew UNIX commands.
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Old May 10, 2003, 03:18 PM   #4
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Someone should ask Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent how their monkeys got that hamlet script written...
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Old May 10, 2003, 03:45 PM   #5
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What would this mean for Darwin and the Monkey theory, if the infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters bang out the Bible?

Still it would be funnier if they come up with a scathing critique of Hamlet instead...
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Old May 10, 2003, 06:08 PM   #6
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i just have a few questions...
what OS were they using?
what brand was the computer?
am i going to pass my italian test?

that'ss kinda funny
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Old May 10, 2003, 06:30 PM   #7
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This is funny as hell! I haven't had a laugh this good in a while.
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Old May 10, 2003, 10:08 PM   #8
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I belive there was a mathematic theory and if you had a unlimited amount of monkeys (unlimited food, etc) That there was acually a chance of one writing, or coming close to a shakespear play.

It took like 5 billion years with like a trillion monkeys tho...
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Old May 11, 2003, 01:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
I belive there was a mathematic theory and if you had a unlimited amount of monkeys (unlimited food, etc) That there was acually a chance of one writing, or coming close to a shakespear play.
when was that study done? because my first thought at seeing the article (and the point of my earlier post in this thread) was that this joke showed up in the first "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" book, when they are on the Heart of Gold, powered by the infinite improbability drive...and at one point the two main characters are trapped in an improbability field and at a certain level of improbability monkeys are writing hamlet.
its really much funnier than i described it. highly recommended to anyone who has not yet read it.
anyhow...a trillion monkeys, eh? well if we each got a monkey and showed it how to type...would that improve our odds? could that be a macrumors project? hmmm....would certainly gain macs some recognition....
what do you think?
12in pb for smaller monkeys, 17in pb for gorrillas?
its really late.
i really just want it to be 2, so i can go surprise my girlfriend with flowers and go to bed.
my post is probably incoherent.
night all.
--carly
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Old May 11, 2003, 09:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by question fear
when was that study done? because my first thought at seeing the article (and the point of my earlier post in this thread) was that this joke showed up in the first "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" book, when they are on the Heart of Gold, powered by the infinite improbability drive...and at one point the two main characters are trapped in an improbability field and at a certain level of improbability monkeys are writing hamlet.
its really much funnier than i described it. highly recommended to anyone who has not yet read it.
anyhow...a trillion monkeys, eh? well if we each got a monkey and showed it how to type...would that improve our odds? could that be a macrumors project? hmmm....would certainly gain macs some recognition....
what do you think?
12in pb for smaller monkeys, 17in pb for gorrillas?
its really late.
i really just want it to be 2, so i can go surprise my girlfriend with flowers and go to bed.
my post is probably incoherent.
night all.
--carly
i'll help with this project! also, you would have to give them a computer without an lcd screen because the might get had, and crack the lcd. crt is harder to crack
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Old May 11, 2003, 11:22 AM   #11
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Some math theory was on /. a while ago.

Something like.
'The monkey writing theory reviewed'
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Old May 14, 2003, 12:16 AM   #12
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lol. It sounds a lot like Zoolander.
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