Google’s subsidiary YouTube took down numerous videos of robot battles, like BattleBots, citing the content was in violation of the site’s terms of services, stating the videos showed acts of animal cruelty.


One of the videos that got removed features a battle between Speed Wedge and Ubersaw at the MassDestruction event. (Image Credit: Jamison Go, YouTube)

The issue surfaced when Jamison Go, a competitor on the latest BattleBots season (team SawBlaze), was notified by YouTube when one of his videos got removed from the site. YouTube provided a statement regarding the removal, stating “Content that displays the deliberate infliction of animal suffering or the forcing of animals to fight is not allowed on YouTube,” and mistakenly flagged the robot fighting videos as animal cruelty. Jamison wasn’t alone in this ordeal. Other YouTube sensations have also received the same message and had their videos removed from the site. Sarah Pohorecky, a competitor from last season’s BattleBots (Team Uppercut), and her Makers Muse channel also faced the same demise, and her channel was given a strike. There wasn’t a pattern that resulted in videos being taken down, other than some robots being named after animals.


One of the videos that got removed can be viewed below:


The quick and high-volume removal of robot battle videos from YouTube suggests that it was simply due to an overactive moderation system from the platform. All videos were removed in error, and there are no policies in terms of services that prohibit videos of robotic battles. Most, if not all, of the videos that were removed from the site have been reinstated.


This isn’t the first time AI has made mistakes. Back in 2017, Facebook developed two chatbots, named “Bob” and “Alice,” solely to learn how to negotiate by copying human trading and bartering. However, things started to go downhill pretty quickly when the two bots were paired together. They developed their own language and communicated back and forth using unintelligible speech-text. Researchers shut down the chatbots and said they were looking at bots that could behave differently.


Additionally, in 2017, Alexa ordered dollhouses for consumers when they hadn’t placed an order. This was only done when the consumer mentioned the product to Alexa. During one of San Diego’s news channel CW6’s broadcasts, when news anchor Jim Patton said “I love the little girl saying, ‘Alexa ordered me a dollhouse,’” Alexa began ordering dollhouses in some viewers’ homes while they were watching the broadcast. Even though it’s unknown how many Alexa devices placed an order for the dollhouse, several owners made complaints about Alexa’s purchase attempt.


On the plus side, I found out about more robot battle competitions. I like the idea of making little battling robots, as opposed to 250 lb monsters. Perhaps I will....


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