French artist robotizes data tracking and digital surveillance for a glimpse of our weirdly cute cyber monitored future

Accept All is an installation from French designer and artist Guillaume Slizewicz that robotizes digital-surveillance cookies and online ad trackers.

Every single day, we invite surveillance trackers to watch our every move. Those annoying pop-up windows that ask you to “Accept All” are really agreements between the internet and its user meant to streamline one’s cyber experience by keeping track of online behavior. They help websites remember pieces of information like your email address, your billing zip code, and your credit card information, as well as present ads that target your interests.

It’s like when the barista makes your iced latte before you even order it. It certainly feels nice, like someone’s got you covered, and it’s a lot less work for you, all you have to do is provide the payment. We click “Accept” so quickly, we don’t even know what we’re accepting. Guillaume Slizewicz wanted to see what it would look like if these digital-surveillance cookies and ad trackers were robotized, which led to his interactive art installment, Accept All.

Built as autonomous, vision-tracking surveillance machines pumped with AI, Slizewicz’s Accept All installation sends floor-roving robots to the feet of visitors like curious puppies nibbling at their toes. Adorned in their Sunday best, each robot is given personality through whimsical costumes.

One robot wears a grass skirt hiked up too high on its head, while another carries an exterior wireframe that resembles a fighting bull. Outfitted in zany costumes to bring out their charm and subdue their darker purpose of surveillance, each robot uses vision-tracking software to mimic data tracking from web cookies.

Slizewicz dressed each one of his robots in a costume not to make data tracking feel cute, but to take back control of the systems that surveil. “When we were growing up, there was this optimism about the internet and technology. And little by little, it was all replaced by this [doomed] feeling,” Slizewicz goes on, “[Accept All] is also about taking back control of this technology.”

Built with the same local AI used by Google, each Accept All robot hosts a Coral AI system that allows them to remain autonomous in movement and pace. The AI embedded in Accept All robots run independently of the cloud, so backlogs of the information gathered by robots won’t be stored in the cloud for future use.

The more immersed as a society we become in technology, the more familiar we become with cyber-surveillance and data tracking. However, there’s a fine line between familiarity and comfort, just like there’s a difference between the barista remembering your coffee order and expecting the barista to remember your order. Through Accept All, Slizewicz exhibits what this familiarity could look like if we allow ourselves to become comfortable with it and if we allow ourselves to even find it cute.

Designer: Guillaume Slizewicz