A bot created by Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo was arrested last year by Swiss authorities. The bot, who is being referred to as RDS, or Random Dark net Shopper. The bot journeyed deep into dark net, purchasing and ordering illegal goods on dozens of markets. The bot even went as far as sending items back to the original shipper just to show off.
The bot is clearly only doing what it is programmed to do. The bot was deliberately sent onto dark net with $100 in bitcoin to spend each week. The couple who invented RDS, are also artists, claiming to be using the bot, and the entire situation to promote more awareness. The programmers, and bot did their jobs well, as the bot sent back dozens and dozens of counterfeit and illegal goods.
A well-known art gallery in St. Gallen, called the Kunsthalle displayed the darknet items for the public to see. The gallery, and the couple have stated that the stunt was to raise awareness in the name of art, through their activist collective, !Mediengruppe Bitnik.
It went to the top of the headlines in no time, and was all well and good. Until a bag of pressed MDMA pills were nailed to a board and put on display. Police then placed the bot under arrest, and confiscated the drugs. The two Swiss artists ran back to their studio, afraid that they were going to be the next ones arrested.
Several months later, it ended alright for the couple when police released the algorithm and took the couples story whole heartedly, saying the couple acted in the name of performance and public education.
“Yes the bot is fine. He even still has some Bitcoins left. And no, unfortunately this does not mean that it is now legal to consume XTC in Swiss art spaces,” the couple said.
Having reached the goal of global coverage to raise awareness about the ethics and liabilities of bot usage, and the issues of control in society, they have released RDS again, but this time in Great Britain, where the couple moved too.
Their bot went on a sort of illegal Christmas shopping spree, this time the “presents” were sent to a gallery in London, running a “live” exhibition about its illegal activities.
Shortly after the bots re-launch in 2015, nothing was heard about it again. It went from front page, international headlines, to nothing at all.
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