Speech before the Select Committee
June 17th 2029
There is one problem with asking monkeys to type out the complete works of Shakespeare in completely grammatically correct prose. Quite simply, the monkeys lacked both the manual dexterity and the intelligence to recognise good writing when they saw it.
This wasn’t a thoughtless experiment, you have to understand. We didn’t just put some monkeys in a room with a set of typewriters or Macbook Pros and expect them to bash out some great literary works. No, this was science. Our efforts involved all of the trademarks of a good experiment.
We paid out for top of the range equipment, some play gyms for the monkeys in their spare time (we’re not animals you know, we weren’t going to work them to death). There was plenty of time for our precious cash cows, I mean – monkeys – to do their own thing too.
It took a lot of funding applications to get to the point where we could even consider running something on this scale. Six hundred monkeys eat a whole lot of bananas. It was like some kind of real life mock-up of King Louis’ palace from The Jungle Book, minus the orangutans. Utter carnage. Terrible really.
The animal psychologists we hired had said that there could be a few teething problems at the start of our project but we never expected something on that scale. They started fighting almost instantly, it was like some kind of virus made them all go insane and start wanting to kill each other. Or maybe that was a side effect of being locked in a massive room that bore no resemblance to the jungle, aside from the clever addition of some computerised wallpaper that at least looked a little bit… wild.
I’m not explaining this right. It wasn’t our fault, see. You have to get that. We did everything we could for those monkeys and if there was a bit of cost-cutting, that isn’t on me. It isn’t on me. I don’t make the budgeting decisions, I don’t decide if we buy a new fancy computer for them to type on or another vet to deal with the massive wounds some of them end up with.
(inaudible mutterings) OK, the wounds aren’t from the typing itself, you got me there. I mean, typing isn’t that dangerous, is it? It’s just words on the page. The real problem, the problem that got me fearing for my life when I was in that cage, is that the monkeys even knew how to type.
I’m getting ahead of myself here. Again. Sorry, it’s those nerves. Is it hot in here or is it just me? Anyway, what happened was, we had to give them a little boost. We all know the deal right, monkeys can’t usually type.
And for our little project, the idea that they could do it was essential. So we did a bit of digging and we found a great scientist working out of Costa Rica who said he’d be able to do a little bit of neural rejigging and find a way for this to work. He was our best shot. The other people we’d spoke to suggested completely stupid things like getting kids to dress up in monkey suits and do all the typing. First off, the amount of instant messaging those kids do, there was no way they’d make believable monkeys typing for the first time.
So we went with the Costa Rican guy. No, I never looked at his degree certificates or references. No, I wasn’t aware that he had spent six years in a mental institution following a break down at a zoo. Come on, would we really have hired him if we’d known all of that?
He put something in the monkey’s brains and then they could type. What? You think I know all of the science? That’s not how this works and you know it. We all think about what it’s our concern to think about and leave the rest to someone who gives a damn.
Three fifty of the six hundred were implanted immediately, we cheated and gave them copies of Shakespeare’s work. If they could read it then, hey, they’d earned the right for a bit of an easier ride. Otherwise we’d have been there forever.
It wasn’t like a sweatshop or anything like that. There were plenty of breaks. But, see, one of the monkeys snapped. He’d been typing up Macbeth for a while and he didn’t really like all of the violence…
You’re asking me why I was carrying a knife? These are such leading questions, I mean, I thought this was my chance to make a statement not be interrogated. Right, right, the monkeys were my responsibility.
I wasn’t carrying the knife. It was meant to be in the little workroom opposite where they type, so we could cut up some bananas and throw them through the little hatch. It wasn’t my fault that the intern wasn’t very bright and her partner broke up with her and she was having a really bad day and the knife – she threw the knife instead.
Right through the hatch, right next to the corrupted little monkey who had spent all of this time reading Macbeth. Someone nicknamed the poor bastard monkey Macbeth, thought it would be ironic or something. He had read about a lot of violence and we hadn’t thought to ask the guy who did the implants whether the monkeys would understand what they typed… Turns out they did and he didn’t quite like it, or us. Don’t think anyone said anything horrific in front of him.
When they came to feed him he got the knife, held someone to ransom and then — Look, need I tell you all of this? It’s embarrassing really. You know the story. Took the knife, walked into some bloody bar and started attacking the local town drunks.
What happened to the monkeys? Well, we had two hundred and fifty to start again. The others… well, I’m not really at liberty to say.