I also have strange co-workers.

(This conversation has been only slightly edited and slightly fictionalized.)

Is it wrong that I feel a certain sense of superiority over some of the other insurance companies we deal with?

No. You should feel a certain sense of superiority over some of the other insurance companies we deal with. A troupe of drunken monkeys should feel a certain sense of superiority over some of the other insurance companies we deal with.

Hey, I have a lot of respect for drunken monkeys. They can write Shakespeare.

Sure, if you have a whole lot of them.

Yeah, but eventually they get it done.

Technically, if you have an infinite number of drunken monkeys, and they’re actually using their typewriters, it really shouldn’t take that long to get it done. People always talk about it like it would be thousands or millions of years, but if they’re really infinite – I mean, Shakespeare did it in, what, maybe twenty-five years? Maybe? With all those monkeys, it should be a lot faster than that. Just mathematically speaking.

Which is good, because we established no plan for replenishing the stock of monkeys as they age out of the system and die.

Apart from the fact that we’re now considering an infinite number of HR representatives and an infinite number of retirement packages, we’re already presuming an infinite number of monkeys without somehow creating a paradox involving the finite boundaries of the known space-time universe. I think we can safely assume the theoretical infinite drunken monkeys are also immortal.

Or that the population is stable.

Are you suggesting they would still die, but before that they would continue to procreate?

They’re animals. It’s hard to stop them from procreating. I’m not comfortable chaining them to their typewriters.

It’s harder to get them to type, but I think we’ve clearly modified their normal behavior in this scenario.

Is there a positive or negative reinforcement technique strong enough to quell the mating urge of a drunken monkey?

I don’t know; I was assuming a long-term eugenics program, or something of the sort.

Breeding monkeys to prefer typing to mating? I hesitate to imagine the neurobiological alterations you’d have to make to sufficiently modify those sensations.

You’re already imagining infinite drunken monkey sex occurring in a room full of typewriters and other monkeys. I don’t think we’re factoring morality into it, here.

If we have infinite drunken monkeys, it would have to be an infinite room, right? So wouldn’t the monkeys be able to manage some privacy? They could have infinite space between them.

So we’re assuming a countably infinite set of monkeys, but uncountably infinite dimensions to the room?

Even if the monkeys are uncountably infinite, the room, as their container, would have to be a higher level of infinity.

That’s a valid point. But my point is that if you’re going to get bogged down in the logistics – infinite paper supply, infinite typewriter ribbons, infinite readers to check their work for typos (“Oh! I think we have it! ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many farts,’ well, dammit, we were close. Try again.”) …my point is, the crux of the issue is that with infinite resources working toward a single goal, even statistically, the time it should take is reduced to the typing speed of the monkeys.

I do imagine they’d be a bit slow, if they’re drunk.

There’s a thought – you suggested drunken monkeys would write Shakespeare, but the standard is infinite monkeys. Why did we presume the infinite monkeys were drunken?

…It makes no difference to the theorem, though, does it? If they’re drunk?

No, but it implies an infinite source of beer, and frankly, I’d be more interested in that than a slew of neurologically modified sonnet-typing primates. Why has nobody told me about infinite beer?

Beer is everywhere. Typing monkeys are rare. You wouldn’t be more interested in the monkeys?

Although I suppose I should have assumed infinite beer as soon as someone suggested giving typewriters to monkeys. That guy was clearly drunk.

What if it were just one immortal typing monkey? Drunken or not? He’d eventually write Shakespeare too, wouldn’t he?

I think that’s been pointed out before. He’d write not only Shakespeare, but everything else that has ever been written or will ever be written.

I just got a nervous chill imagining how many times he’d write “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

I’d love to read his treatment for a good version of Star Wars Episode I.

He’d just have to be ashamed when he writes the lyrics to Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle.”

But he – or she, sorry, we should be aware of that – she would also inevitably write the most intelligent, spiritually fulfilling system of life ever.

As well as the ingredients for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Everything.

Everything.

Oh, dear Lord. Predetermination is real, and God is a drunken immortal monkey with a Smith-Corona.

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