Once upon a time, there were some baby bots. They were sweet and docile and did precisely what they were programmed to do. But fast forward some years, and these bots entered a more rebellious stage. Suddenly, their actions became less predictable, sometimes with very unexpected results.
The Random Darknet Shopper is an automated online shopping program (a “bot”) that trawls the darker markets of the web in search of items to purchase—at, well, random—using $100 in Bitcoins per week. (Bitcoins are an “innovative payment network” and a new form of currency, currently trading at around US $235 per bitcoin.) According to the bot creators, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, a Zurich/London-based group that uses “hacking as an artistic strategy,” this was a form of performance art. “The Random Darknet Shopper is a live Mail Art piece, an exploration of the deep web via the goods traded there.” The randomized purchases were then exhibited at Kunst Halle St. Gallen, a contemporary art gallery near the Swiss Alps through January 11, 2015.