Elaine Thompson / AP
Microsoft workers are asking the giant technology company to cancel its US $ 480 million US Army contract and say the deal has "crossed the line" to Microsoft's first development of weapons. They say the use of the company's HoloLens enhanced reality technology under the contract "is designed to help people kill."
In a letter to Microsoft director Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, workers also say the company fails to inform its engineers "about the purpose of the software they build."
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, please log in at: https://t.co/958AhvIHO5 pic.twitter.com/uUZ5P4FJ7X
– Microsoft Workers 4 Good (@ MsWorkers4) February 22, 2019
The November contract is for what is called an integrated visual augmentation system.
"The contract's stated goal is to" quickly develop, test and produce a single platform that soldiers can use to fight, repeat and train that provide increased mortality, mobility, and situational awareness needed to achieve overmatch against our current and future opponents.
"We are concerned that Microsoft is working to provide weapon technology to the US military, which helps a country's government increase mortality" through the tools we built, "the workers wrote. "We did not register to develop weapons, and we require an expression of how our work is being used."
Bloomberg reported that the contract could lead the military to buy more than 100,000 headsets from Microsoft. "The US Army and the Israeli military have already used Microsoft's HoloLens units in training, but the live battle plans will be a significant step forward," the report said.
In October, Smith defended Microsoft's work with the military and wrote in a company's blog post:
"First, we think People who defend our country need and deserve our support, and secondly, to withdraw from this market is to reduce the ability to engage in public debate on how best to use new technologies responsibly. In the most positive way, we can work to help shape it. "Friday's letter to Microsoft executives is the latest occurrence of US technology guards standing up to their companies over the company's lines of business or politics.
Last year, Google workers protested on the company's plans to create a censored search engine in China. And Google decided not to renew a contract with the Ministry of Defense after the workers had resigned to protest against a controversial project involving artificial intelligence for drone footage analysis.
Technical workers from Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon and Google pushed their CEOs to tie down and terminate contracts with US immigration and customs prosecution and other authorities.