Robots gone wild.
What happens if you give a robot $100 worth of bitcoins every week, and send him off to the dark web, which is essentially just the online version of the black market? It will buy ecstasy, a Hungarian passport, a baseball cap with a built-in camera, and the “Lord of the Rings” e-book collection.
Sounds like a typical Thursday night.
The automated shopping robot was set up in October by the Swiss art group, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, as part of an art project to explore the dark web, which acts an unregulated, hidden part of the Internet.
Each week, the robot was given $100 in bitcoins, a cryptocurrency, commonly used by criminals, and was tasked with buying one item from Agora, an online market place on the dark web. The items were delivered to a Swiss art gallery called Kunst Halle St Gallen, with the end goal to form an entire exhibition.
As you can imagine, the robot was arrested in January 2015, and Swiss police confiscated the robot, and all of its illegal purchases. But, surprisingly, three months later, the police returned the robot and all of its purchases (minus the ecstasy) back to the artists.
It’s weird that police returned a counterfeit Hungarian passport back to a bunch of artists, but hey, that’s none of my business.
Swiss authorities have stated that the artists, and fortunately the robot, wouldn’t be charged.
“We decided that ecstasy that is in this presentation was safe and nobody could take it away. Bitnik never intended to sell it or consume it so we didn’t punish them,” Thomas Hansjakob, a spokesperson for the Swiss St Gallen police, told CNBC.