A Blinkenlight

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DSC_0215I call it Ein Blinkenlight For 1000 Thoroughly Modern Monkeys, 448 LEDs and One Great Bard, and it is ready!

My Blinkenlight plays on the philosophical question whether 1000 monkeys using 1000 typewriters eventually produce the works of William Shakespeare, given enough time. My 1000 monkeys are thoroughly modern monkeys: they exist in form of a digital emulation, programmed into a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, and they use a predictive texting system rather than classic typewriters. Their output is shown on a display made from 448 LEDs.

The predictive texting system is trained with one or more of the works of the great bard.

The monkeys begin with a randomly selected word out of all the words in the training vocabulary. The next word is randomly chosen, but with a probability matching the word distribution in the original work. For example, king may follow my with a probability of 40%, sword may follow my with a probability of 30%, land and dog with 20% and 10%, respectively. Juliet may never appear after my, not in Hamlet. Punctuation and capitalization follow a similar principle of random selection to match the distribution in the training material.

This process is repeated over and over, producing an intriguingly Shakespearean-esque but nonsensical series of words.

This Google+ post has a little video attached, demonstrating the blinkenlight working with both Hamlet Prince of Denmark and Romeo And Juliet.