Switzerland Releases Robot Who Bought Drugs Online

By May Wilkerson 04/24/15

After three months in custody, Mediengruppe Bitnik's drug-buying robot has been freed.

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In a historic moment for creative and robotic freedom, a robot who purchased illegal drugs online was released by authorities in Switzerland last week.

A Swiss art collective, Mediengruppe Bitnik, launched an exhibition called Random Darknet Shopper in which they built the robot and gave it a weekly allowance of $100 to buy contraband items from the deep web. When left to its own devices, the robot ordered a Hungarian passport, a baseball cap with a hidden camera, and 120 mg of MDMA, all of which were delivered to the exhibition.

When the experiment ended in January, Swedish police confiscated the robot and all of its purchases. The artists were not charged, and three months later, the robot has been released. “This is a great day for the bot, for us and for freedom of art," wrote the artists on their website.

Authorities destroyed the ecstasy, but deemed the other items legal. The artists weren’t prosecuted on the grounds that the exhibit justified its activity by “sparking public debate” about drug laws.

“The possession of ecstasy was indeed a reasonable means for the purpose of sparking public debate about questions related to the exhibition,” said the public prosecutor. "The public prosecution also asserts that the overweighing interest in the questions raised by the art work Random Darknet Shopper justify the exhibition of the drugs as artefacts, even if the exhibition does hold a small risk of endangerment of third parties through the drugs exhibited.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.