The anonymous activist group, The Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA) was founded in 1998 as a technological research and development organisation, interested in the intersection between technology, public policy and social control, as well as with building systems that facilitate freedom of speech and public acts of dissent. These concerns encompass a number of related issues including surveillance, public space, and law enforcement.
One of the projects of IAA is Contestational Robotics, aka ‘Robotic Objectors’, which is a research initiative that inverts the traditional relationship between robots and authoritarian power structures by developing robots to meet the needs and budgets of culturally resistant forces. Currently, the IAA has three robotic objectors under development: Pamphleteer, aka Little Brother, is a propaganda robot; GraffitiWriter is a tele-operated robot which employs a custom built array of spray cans to write linear text messages on the ground; and The StreetWriter, a custom built, computer-controlled, industrial spray painting unit that is built into the extended body of a cargo van.
Inverse Surveillance attempts to undermine or reverse the authoritative power associated with technology, by setting out to create inverse interventions in the practices of surveillance. iSee, a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments. With iSee, users can find routes that avoid these cameras. And, TXTmob, which is a free service that lets users quickly and easily broadcast txt messages to friends, comrades, and total strangers. The format is similar to an email b-board system.