Microsoft employees have signed a letter expressing strong objections to Microsoft’s military contract with the U.S. Army. The military contract, awarded to Microsoft in November, is to develop augmented reality headsets for the battlefield.
Over 50 Microsoft employees signed a letter stating that “We are a global coalition of Microsoft workers, and we refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression. We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built. We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” added the employees.
According to the contract, the headsets which are designed to place holographic images into the wearer’s field of vision would be configured to “increase lethality” by “enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy,” according to a CNBC report.
The letter written to Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, said that the company has been involved in military projects before but this was the first time it was engaging in a weapons development project. It adds that the contract will turn the warfare into a simulated video game which will alter a soldier’s experience of war, desensitizing them to the blood and gore.
“A lot of people feel uncomfortable about being involved in war-related business or producing weapons that hurt other people. To me, it’s a basic violation of Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and organization on the planet to do more,” argued an employee.
This is not the first time Microsoft employees have protested the company’s dealings with the government. The employees strongly dissented the tech giant’s deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and demanded that the company stop working with the government department. Reportedly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement were involved in separating migrant children from their parents at the controversial United States-Mexico border.
The employees confessed that there were many engineers who contributed to the HoloLens program before they knew the contract existed. These engineers thought that they were helping “architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano, to push the boundaries of gaming, and to connect with the Mars Rover.”
“These engineers have now lost their ability to make decisions about what they work on, instead of finding themselves implicated as war profiteers.”
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