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Microsoft Workers Demand Company End Army Contract



  The Hololens are demonstrated at the Penn Museum. (Photo: Penn Libraries-TRL / flickr / cc) declare to top executives that they refuse to become a war recipient, a group of Microsoft workers said on Friday that the company deleted a contract with the US Army as they say would "help people kill "and beat war in a" video game. "

Their open letter is addressed to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and president and chief lawyer Brad Smith, and according to "Microsoft Workers 4 Good" Twitter handle, who wrote the document, received over 100 employees signatures on their first day. [19659003] On behalf of Microsoft employees, we release an open letter to Brad Smith and Satya Nadella, requiring the IVAS contract to be canceled with a call for stricter ethical guidelines.
If you are a Microsoft employee you can log on to: https://t.co/958AhvIHO5 pic.twitter.com/uUZ5P4FJ7X

– Microsoft Workers 4 Good (@ MsWorkers4) 22 February 2019

In doubt, Microsoft's $ 479 million contract is to deliver the military's Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program with enhanced reality headsets. It is for a platform that the government says is meant to "increase mortality by improving the ability to detect, determine and engage with the enemy."

Microsoft would use the HoloLens technology for the contract.

However, this step will be something Microsoft has never done before: "cross the line into weapon development," the workers write.

"It will be distributed on the battlefield and works by turning warfare into a simulated" video game, "further distancing soldiers from the cruel war impressions and the reality of bloodshed," the letter writes. "Intent to harm is not an acceptable use of our technology."

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Smith's suggestion that workers who find a project "unethical" finds another project to work with is problematic, the workers explain:

There are many engineers who contributed to HoloLens before this contract itself existed, believing that It would be accustomed to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to teach people to perform surgery or play the piano, to push boundaries to games and to connect to Mars Rover (RIP). These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they are working on, rather than finding themselves implicit as a premiere.

[…]

Microsoft's mission is to give each person and organization on the planet the opportunity to do more. But implicitly in this statement, we believe it is Microsoft's mission to give each person and organization on the planet a good ability to do well. We also need to be aware of who we give and what we give them the opportunity to do. Extending this core goal to include warfare and disempower Microsoft employees is unfortunate, as "every person" also means giving us opportunity. As employees and shareholders, we do not want to become war pensioners. In this regard, we believe that Microsoft must stop in its business to strengthen the US Army's ability to cause harm and violence.

In addition to terminating the IVAS contract, employees require that Microsoft:

  • cease to develop all weapon technology, and prepare a publicly acceptable use policy that clarifies this engagement; and
  • Appoint an Independent External Ethics Review Board with authority to enforce and publish compliance approval with its acceptable use policy.

On the other hand, Microsoft confirmed on Friday its commitment to helping the military.

Technology gigantic Google faced similar criticism from workers last year for its work on drone and artificial intelligence (AI) technology with the US military. After the announcement, Google announced that it would not renew the contract on the Pentagon program, known as Project Maven.


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