Crazy vending machine swaps computer art for your permanent selfie

The question of how much of your personal data you woul be willing to give up for ostensibly free stuff is what drives the value of some of the world’s biggest tech giants — ranging from Google to Facebook. It’s also a conundrum that is put to the test in the latest creation of coder artist Matthias Dörfelt.

Dörfelt has built a high-tech camera-equipped vending machine called Face Trade (no, not the movie where John Travolta and Nicolas Cage swap faces) which exchanges unique prints of computer-generated faces for users taking a selfie that is then permanently stored in the Ethereum blockchain.

“My main goal for Face Trade was to create an installation that is odd, surprising, and fun on the surface, while being a comment and experiment on how easily people are willing to give up personal — and in this case even biometric — information in order to receive a ‘free’ artwork,” Dörfelt told Digital Trends.

Dörfelt said that the machine-generated faces are generated on the spot by the computer vending machine. They are designed to be intentionally ambiguous with faces that are showing emotions which are not immediately identifiable.

“It is not quite clear if the faces are happy, evil, exhausted, or possibly trying to deceive you,” he said. “The drawings are, in a lot of ways, a representation of my feelings towards the short but explosive history of blockchain, which somewhat oscillates between the amazing promises of democratization and decentralization on the one hand, and silk road, greed, and hyper-capitalism on the other end of the spectrum.”

The Face Trade vending machine is currently being exhibited at Art Center Nabi in Seoul, South Korea. “Right now, it is running on an Ethereum test network as I consider the current exhibition as more of a test run,” Dörfelt continued. “This means, as of now, the faces are not stored in the main Ethereum blockchain — which I guess is a better deal for the participants. [However], there will be another Blockchain-related show in late November, also at Nabi, where the piece will be shown again. I plan to have things running on the main Ethereum network for that second show.”

While projects such as this are certainly fun in their conception (and, hey, who wouldn’t want their own computer-generated artwork?), there’s no doubt that it taps into our anxieties surrounding a much bigger issue when it comes to privacy and today’s internet titans.

Ask yourself: Would you be willing to make this particular trade? There’s a unique algorithmically generated artwork if you would!

Product Review

‘Just Cause 4’ is mindless fun that leaves little room for much else

Just Cause 4 revels in explosions and over-the-top action, but its world feels empty and hollow. With few new ideas and a stale open world, it's a fun but shallow piece of escapism.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.