In an effort to uncover the hidden darker parts of the internet, Swiss group !Mediengruppe Bitnik created a bitcoin robot as an art installation. The robot is given $100 every week to purchase random items from Agora, an online marketplace where one can buy drugs and other illegal items.
The bitcoin robot managed to use its $100 to buy Ecstasy, a Hungarian passport, and a baseball cap before getting arrested. Other purchases included fake Diesel jeans, a Sprite can with a hole cut out in order to stash cash, Nike trainers, a baseball cap with a hidden camera, cigarettes and the “Lord of the Rings” e-book collection. These items, along with other purchases, were delivered to a Swiss art gallery called Kunst Halle St. Gallen to create an exhibition.
Bitcoin Robot Arrested
The bitcoin robot called “Random Darknet Shopper” had a run-in with authorities early this year and was arrested in January, during which the Swiss police confiscated its purchases. Three months later, the bitcoin robot and some of its purchases were returned to the Swiss artists minus the Ecstasy tablets.
“This is a great day for the ‘bot, for us and for freedom of art!” said !Mediengruppe Bitnik in their blog post last week. “In the order for withdrawal of prosecution, the public prosecutor states that the possession of Ecstasy was indeed a reasonable means for the purpose of sparking public debate about questions related to the exhibition.”
Fortunately, the artists involved were not slapped any charges. Swiss authorities also confirmed that the bitcoin robot itself would also not be charged.
“We decided the 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,” said Thomas Hansjakob, a spokesperson for the Swiss St Gallen police. He added that the artists did not inform the authorities about the project and that they simply found out about it through media.