More than 100 Microsoft Employees signed a letter sent to CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith criticizing the company’s plans to develop HoloLens AR technology for the military, the organizing group said on Friday. The development is part of a $ 480 million military contract that Microsoft won last November.
The group’s letter demands that the company cancel its work on the contract and cease development of weapons technologies. “We do not register to develop weapons, and we demand an opinion on how our work is used,” the letter further states.
Microsoft has focused its augmented reality efforts on enterprise customers, but had aggressively pursued the military contract, outperforming other applicants, including the billion-dollar startup Magic Leap. The contract is essentially a pilot program to begin equipping the United States military with augmented reality headsets and software tools to assist with training and combat.
The protest letter for the nearly half a billion dollar deal came just a couple of days before Microsoft launched a second-generation HoloLens at an event in Barcelona.
On behalf of Microsoft workers, we are launching an open letter to Brad Smith and Satya Nadella, demanding the termination of the IVAS contract with a call for stricter ethical guidelines. If you are a Microsoft employee, you can sign at: https: / /t.co/958AhvIHO5 pic.twitter.com/uUZ5P4FJ7X
– Microsoft Workers 4 Good (@ MsWorkers4) February 22, 2019
In October, Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith posted a blog expressing the company’s support for the military projects he was undertaking, saying, “We believe in strong defense of the United States and we want the people to defend it. they defend having access to the best technology in the country. ” even from Microsoft. ”That letter went to the company’s substantially most shocking bid to win the $ 10 billion JEDI cloud infrastructure contract, but the further sign of rejection from a small group of employees shows that not all The company believes that Microsoft should be helping the US military.