Autonomous Robot Scours The Dark Web, Buys A Fake Passport And Ecstasy
For the uninitiated, the Dark Web refers to websites that Chrome, Firefox, and That Other One can't reach. To surf the Dark Web, you'll need a special browser and lots of bail money, because a large chunk of what's down there is horribly illegal, oh, just about everywhere.
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"I can already smell the panda burgers."
With that in mind, the Swiss art collective !Mediengruppe Bitnik designed a special bot called the Random Darknet Shopper and programmed it to spend up to 100 bitcoins per week at a particular Dark Web shopping site. The bot had full autonomy over what it bought. And, while there were certainly a ton of illegal items for sale, the site sported plenty of perfectly legal inventory too.
But fuck a family-friendly shopping spree -- the Darknet Shopper went truly dark, buying up counterfeit jeans, a baseball cap with a hidden camera inside, a counterfeit handbag, bootleg cigarettes, a fake passport, and 10 ecstasy pills wrapped inside a condom.
Amazingly, the group considered building a robo-pirate a success, as their project was designed to "shed light on the fringes of society and to pose fundamental contemporary questions," like how far should electronic autonomy go? And who should be held accountable when a machine breaks the law? If Mega Man goes haywire and blows all his zenny on heroin and snuff films, do they simply shut him down, or do they throw Dr. Light into the pokey as well?
The answer, at least in Switzerland, is ... nope. See, the Swiss are incredibly, almost ludicrously permissive when it comes to the arts. You can do just about anything you want there and, as long as it's "in the public interest," the authorities will look the other way. So nobody got in trouble, and the exhibit, "The Darknet: From Memes To Onionland," ran as scheduled (though the police did confiscate the ill-gotten booty one day after the exhibit closed).
Wouldn't want your robot to get cancer, you know.
So, if you want to party like a rock star, head to Switzerland and store your stash in an art gallery. No one will say a word. Just double-check your condoms before turning out the lights.
Jason's Facebook and Twitter are just like art projects. Namely, that one where the guy threw elephant shit all over the Virgin Mary.
Be sure to also check out 5 Mind-Blowing Works of Art (That You Aren't Allowed to See) and 7 Bizarre Easter Eggs Hidden in Great Works of Art.