Yesterday, Microsoft workers demanded that the company terminate a $ 479 million contract that provides the army with HoloLens headphones, calling it a corruption of earlier work by designers and engineers, and an aversion to those who oppose designing weapons for war.
In a letter addressed to Microsoft CEO and its president, Microsoft Workers 4 Good an organization of employees created at the end of January also demanded that the company stop developing weapons technologies, commit to a acceptable use policy for their products, and appoint an ethical board to revise this obligation.
Microsoft Workers 4 Good tweeted letter yesterday afternoon; By late last night, the group said more than 1
In November, Microsoft and the Army reached an agreement to develop an "Integrated Visual Augmentation System," based on the Holholens enhanced reality platform. The Army, according to reports at that time, explicitly said that technology is meant to "increase mortality by enhancing the ability to detect, determine and engage the enemy."
Hololens was announced in January 2015 and has not yet launched as a consumer product. A development kit sells for around $ 3,000. Reports at the end of 2018 suggested that Microsoft sold about 50,000 of the devices. The army itself would buy twice as much in the contract.
"The application of HoloLens in [Integrated Visual Augmentation System] is designed to help people kill," the co-worker said. "It will be distributed on the battlefield and work by beating warfare in a simulated" video game, "further distancing soldiers from the war shots and the reality of blood's blood."
In November, Microsoft President Brad Smith defended the company's cooperation with the military, noting that the two have worked together for more than 30 years. "We believe in the strong defense of the United States, and we want the people who defend it to access the nation's best technology, including from Microsoft," Smith said. He said employees who opposed developing technologies for the military could be accommodated by transferring to other projects or working groups in the company.
The working group on Friday said "ignoring the problem that workers are not properly informed about the use of their work." The letter noted that "many engineers contributed to HoloLens before this contract itself existed," it is believed to be used on fields such as is uneven as architecture, surgery, car design and space research. "These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they are working on, rather than finding themselves implicated as war payables."
Microsoft Workers 4 Good, according to its Twitter page organized so that workers could hold Microsoft accountable for their stated values . "It has previously criticized the company's political action committee to make contributions to" non-interested candidates for Microsoft's core values "- specifically, conservative or right-wing politicians.
Friday's letter was aimed at Smith and Satya Nadella , Microsoft CEO A Microsoft spokesperson, in a statement to The Guardian, did not respond to the content of the group's criticism, but said the company "always appreciates employee feedback."