A group of Microsoft employees requires that the company is not the production of weapons for the U.S. Army.
More than 150 employees of Microsoft signed a letter that the tech-giant to cancel a $480 million contract for the construction of a HoloLens for the Pentagon, they say “refuse to create technology for war and oppression.”
“We are afraid that Microsoft is working on the supply of weapons technology for the US army, with the help of a country the government of the increase of lethality’ with the help of tools that we built. We don’t have to sign up for the development of weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” the letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, which was posted on Twitter, states.
The employees represent the last big tech backlash, coming from Silicon Valley itself, as workers want more control over the way tech products are used and how a range of groups are treated internally.
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Back in November, according to the employees of Microsoft, the company awarded a major contract from the U.S. Army with the purpose to “rapidly develop, test and produce a single platform that soldiers can use to fight, rehearse, and train that provides more lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to overmatch against our current and future opponents.”
The employees require Microsoft to terminate the agreement, cease development of any and all weapons technologies, design of a public policy around the acceptable use of such technology, and the appointment of an independent, external ethics review board, with the power to enforce compliance.
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Microsoft’s HoloLens has a range of potential applications in non-military environments, such as hospitals, factories and schools.
In October, Smith published a blog in support of the tech giant, the work of the military, the writing of “we believe in the strong defense of the United States and we want the people who defend to have access to the nation’s best technology, including Microsoft.”
A number of Google employees resigned last year about that company and the Pentagon’s AI project, and Mountain View, Calif. company ultimately pulled out. A group of 450 Amazon employees in October protested against the facial recognition software that is sold to law enforcement.
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A Microsoft spokesperson provided Fox News with the following statement on Sunday:
“We have given this issue careful consideration and outlined our perspective in October 2018 blog. We appreciate the feedback of employees and offer many opportunities for their voices to be heard. In fact, we heard from many workers in the autumn. As we said, we are committed to providing our technology of the U.S. Department of Defense, which the U.S. Army under this contract. As we already said, we remain involved as active citizens in tackling the important ethical and public policy with respect to the AI and the army.”