Ask Hackaday: A Robot’s Black Market Shopping Spree

It was bad when kids first started running up cell phone bills with excessive text messaging. Now we’re living in an age where our robots can go off and binge shop on the Silk Road with our hard earned bitcoins. What’s this world coming to? (_sarcasm;)

For their project ‘Random Darknet Shopper’, Swiss artists [Carmen Weisskopf] and [Domagoj Smoljo] developed a computer program that was given 100 dollars in bitcoins and granted permission to lurk on the dark inter-ether and make purchases at its own digression. Once a week, the AI would carrying out a transaction and have the spoils sent back home to its parents in Switzerland. As the random items trickled in, they were photographed and put on display as part of their exhibition, ‘The Darknet. From Memes to Onionland’ at Kunst Halle St. Gallen. The trove of random purchases they received aren’t all illegal, but they will all most definitely get you thinking… which is the point of course. They include everything from a benign Lord of the Rings audio book collection to a knock-off Hungarian passport, as well as the things you’d expect from the black market, like baggies of ecstasy and a stolen Visa credit card. The project is meant to question current sanctions on trade and investigate the world’s reaction to those limitations. In spite of dabbling in a world of questionable ethics and hazy legitimacy, the artists note that of all the purchases made, not a single one of them turned out to be a scam.

Though [Weisskopf] and [Smoljo] aren’t worried about being persecuted for illegal activity, as Swiss law protects their right to freely express ideas publicly through art, the implications behind their exhibition did raise some questions along those lines. If your robot goes out and buys a bounty of crack on its own accord and then gives it to its owner, who is liable for having purchased the crack?

If a collection of code (we’ll loosely use the term AI here) is autonomous, acting independent of its creator’s control, should the creator still be held accountable for their creation’s intent? If the answer is ‘no’ and the AI is responsible for the repercussions, then we’re entering a time when its necessary to address AI as separate liable entities. However, if you can blame something on an AI, this suggests that it in some way has rights…

Before I get ahead of myself though, this whole notion circulates around the idea of intent. Can we assign an artificial form of life with the capacity to have intent?

[Ian] shops Seoul, South Korea

We don’t get a chance to shop some of the cooler electronic component shops here in the States, much less hop on a plane and experience the Hacker’s Disneyland that are the Asian markets. So we’re glad to live vicariously through Hackaday alum [Ian Lesnet’s] adventures. This time around he’s combed through Seoul, South Korea’s electronics markets. That link will take you to the roundup of about a dozen posts he published during his recent trip.

The image above is a screenshot from one of the videos he made of the experience. After the break you can watch him put on the tour-guide hat. We think he did a great job of explaining the experience and showing off what the market is like without letting the video drag on. The shops mostly offer a window display with all of the components they sell. To make a purchase you just window shop, then go inside and they will pull out an order for you from bulk bags stored on floor-to-ceiling shelves. [Ian] also makes a stop at the local Hackerspace where they show off some of their 3D printer builds.

This is not the first time he’s given us a tour like this, go check out his Akihabara trip if you missed it before. He’s also planning to meet up with the Seeed Studio folks to tour the shops in Shenzhen next month. Continue reading “[Ian] shops Seoul, South Korea”

Netbook comparator

netbooks

Our recent netbook post got a huge response. They are almost unanimously loved. A few dissenting opinions were present though. A few people mentioned that until this generation arrived, they were buying used subnotebooks for exactly the same reasons.

If you’re in the market for a new machine, Obsessable’s netbook comparator has all of the current models broken down by feature.

Gift card electronics

Gift-giving season is upon us, and it’s time for people to start panicking about what to give to their friends and families. Gift cards have gained in popularity over the years, as companies count on people to forget to use them. But how about gift cards that do more than store a token amount of cash? Best Buy is now selling a gift card that doubles as a speaker. It has a mini headphone jack that’ll plug into any audio player. You only need to spend fifteen dollars to get it. Target’s gone all out, with a gift card that is also a 1.2 MP digital camera. It comes with a USB cord and driver disk, and there’s even one with a 64MB USB flash drive. We’re very interested to see if these will take off, and what people will do with them once the cards are used up.

[via Gizmodo]