A group of Microsoft workers demand that the company cancel a contract that supplies the US Army withheadphones that they say would turn on real battlefields in a video game. Microsoft's main-mounted HoloLens show uses magnified reality, meaning viewers can see virtual images superimposed on the landscape in front of them.
A letter signed by more than 50 Microsoft employees Friday and circulated on an internal message card, said the technology could help soldiers to spot – and kill – opponents on the battlefield. They say they "refuse to create warfare and repression technology."
"We did not register to develop weapons, and we require a word on how our work is used," the letter says. It asks Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith to cancel a $ 480 million contract announced by the Army in November.
In a statement on Friday, Microsoft said it was obliged to work with the military, including the army under the HoloLens contract.
Microsoft pointed to a October October post by Smith saying those defending the United States should have "access to the nation's best technology." The company added that it will continue to address "important ethical and public issues related to (artificial intelligence) and the military."
Military bidding documents say that the new technology ̵
The protesters say it means that HoloLens, better known for its business and entertainment applications, will be used to kill.
The protesting workers write that "it will be distributed on the battlefield and work by beating warfare in a simulated" video game, "further distancing soldiers from warlike war impressions and the reality of bloodshed." The Army did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The letter also asks Microsoft to stop building some weapons technology and appoint an independent ethical review card to determine acceptable use of Microsoft technology.
The internal turmoil of the Army contract follows a year of activism of technical workers who have become increasingly emboldened to vote their concerns about how their products are being used. A similar employee protest in Google last year helped the company drop out of the militarywho use artificial intelligence to analyze aerial images of combat zones. Microsoft employees last year also raised public concerns and circulated an open letter protesting against the company's work with US immigration authorities.