Earlier this week, video makers who had uploaded videos onto YouTube received an intriguing message from the site, saying their content had been removed from YouTube, as it fell in line with 'animal cruelty.'
What these video makers had in common was their content showed robot combats. That's right, cold, metal, remote-controlled contraptions - not an animal with a pulsing heartbeat.
Engineers and creators work on creating robots that can fight other robots. Think BattleBots. Some throw flames to melt their opponent, others have rotating sharp parts to cut up their enemy, while others have remote-controlled hammers pounding down on the other.
These are hugely popular in some parts of the world and are a form of entertainment. But this kind of entertainment by no means hurt any humans or animals. The only thing wounded is the person's pride because their bot lost the tournament.
What YouTube stated was that these fights resembled too closely to animal suffering, where animals are forced to fight each other in order for the owners to earn money — for example, fighting cocks, or dogs.
Granted, that type of animal cruelty should not be displayed on YouTube or anywhere else, nor should it occur in the first place. However, robots and animals --at the moment anyways -- are very different, and these fighting bots have zero feelings, nerve endings or emotions.
Reaction to YouTube's decision
There's been a fair amount of confusion, followed by anger. A huge number of people rely on these videos, and these events, for income and for a way of sharing interesting engineering creations.
That said, YouTube realized their mistake and have since re-uploaded the videos online, and issued apologies to those affected. It's unclear if YouTube had an algorithm in place that jumped to the conclusion that these were animal fights, or if a person was in fact behind the decision-making process.
Regardless, now is the time to watch fighting robots online, as this may fall under the category of 'animal cruelty' or 'robot abuse' in the future, depending on how quickly robotics and AI work together to create robots that can actually feel. This raises important questions that we've only seen in sci-fi movies before.